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The Good Work Index

Highlights from Research Brief 1:

  • Since job quality is multidimensional, key to mapping disparities in it is developing a metric that meaningfully and transparently summarises the overall hierarchy in the quality of work. To do this, we developed the Good Work Index (GWI).
  • The GWI is a summary indicator based on nine indicators of job quality (wages, job security, continuous learning requirements, skill-use opportunities, task variety, task discretion, job demands, control over working time, and participation opportunities)—with each component weighted according to how much it influences job satisfaction for the average worker. In line with decades of prior research, we find factors related to the nature of work weigh more heavily in determining the wellbeing potential of jobs relative to more extrinsic factors like pay.
  • Using the GWI as a proxy for overall job quality, we find that managerial and professional occupations have the best job quality on average, with manual and routine occupations having the worst, and intermediate occupations in the middle.
  • There are no noticeable differences across categories of workplace size nor between unionized and non-unionized workplaces.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, there is little difference between the genders on average. However, worryingly, we find a large ethnic job quality penalty.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, graduates enjoy better jobs and there is an age gradient with younger workers tending to work in lower quality jobs.
  • Overall job quality is associated with more positive affect, lower negative affect, more positive job attitudes, and higher life satisfaction. Importantly, these effects tend to be non-linear. The negative effects of very low quality work is bigger than the positive effects of high quality work.
  • Clearly, moving people out of lower quality jobs and into higher quality ones remains an important goal for increasing positive job attitudes and national wellbeing.

The full brief can be read here.

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