Project 2.5 Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: A Longitudinal Analysis

Project 2.5 Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: A Longitudinal Analysis

Project Name: Project 2.5 Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: A Longitudinal Analysis
Project Leader:
Francis Green
Other Project Team Members:
Duncan Gallie, Anna Vignoles, Golo Henseke
Project 2.5 Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: A Longitudinal Analysis

Project Details

The study of job quality has progressed a long way in recent decades. Job quality refers to a range of job characteristics that contribute to satisfying workers’ human needs from work. Alongside wages (which are vital for our material needs), job quality also embraces a job’s prospects for the future, its intrinsic aspects, and the quality of work time. There is ongoing policy and academic interest in the factors that determine the quality of jobs that people attain. Not least, policy-makers hold that good quality jobs are needed to support high employment rates, including raising the retirement age. There are relevant factors both on the demand side (the characteristics of jobs and employers), and on the supply side (individuals' prior acquisition of human capital).

The objective of this project has been to examine the factors, both demand- and supply-side, that channel some people into good jobs, and others into bad ones. It has involved several studies, using nationally representative survey data. Some of our studies have used the Skills and Employment Survey 2012, which is connected to this theme and attached to this project as well as to project 2.4. Topics covered in our earlier work in 2013 and 2014 included: job quality through the economic crisis, participation, job-related well-being, insecurity and training. Since 2015 we have built on this work and taken advantage of supplementary funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to conduct further in-depth research on job quality, focusing on studies of graduate jobs, of overeducation and of job quality across different work spaces.

Researchers’ understanding of the determinants of job quality comes largely from studies using cross-sectional data, in series such as the Skills and Employment Surveys or the European Working Conditions Surveys. Longitudinal data, however, offer a better prospect of being able to confidently draw conclusions about causal processes. To make progress, therefore, we have used the British Cohort Study of people born in 1970, and we have also conducted a follow-up survey of participants in the 2012 Skills and Employment Survey two years later in 2014. With the resulting new longitudinal data set we have studied factors that caused changes in job quality for individual workers between 2012 and 2014. Among other factors, we have so far especially focused on skill use, work effort and organisational participation. We also find evidence for long-term effects from private schooling on job quality.


Research findings

Project publications:

The following publications include both those generated using the 2012 cross-section data and those derived from the longitudinal data:

Journal Articles


Gallie, D., Y. Zhou, A. Felstead, F. Green and G. Henseke (2017). "" Industrial Relations Journal 48(2): 174-191. 

The article examines the implications of direct participation for employees’ organisational commitment, job satisfaction and affective psychological well-being. It focuses on both task discretion and organisational participation. Applying fixed effect models to nationally representative longitudinal data, the study provides a more rigorous assessment of the conflicting claims for the effects of participation that have hitherto been based primarily on cross-sectional evidence. Further, it tests a range of mechanisms by which direct participation leads to improved employee outcomes. Contrary to the critical literature, it shows that even after controlling for unobserved individual heterogeneity, both forms of direct participation have positive effects for employees’ organisational commitment and well-being. The effects of task discretion are primarily direct, reflecting the intrinsic importance of personal control over the job task; in contrast, those of organisational participation derive to a greater extent from its indirect effect on the quality of working conditions.

Felstead, A., & Henseke, G. (2017). ">Assessing the growth of remote working and its consequences for effort, well-being and work-life balance. New Technology Work and Employment. doi:10.1111/ntwe.12097

This article critically assesses the assumption that more and more work is being detached from place and that this is a ‘winwin’ for both employers and employees. Based on an analysis of official labour market data, it finds that only one-third of the increase in remote working can be explained by compositional factors such as movement to the knowledge economy, the growth in flexible employment and organisational responses to the changing demographic make-up of the employed labour force. This suggests that the detachment of work from place is a growing trend. This article also shows that while remote working is associated with higher organisational commitment, job satisfaction and job-related well-being, these benefits come at the cost of work intensification and a greater inability to switch off.

Green, F. and G. Henseke (2016) "?" Oxford Review of Economic Policy. .

To assess potential public concerns, this paper examines theory and evidence surrounding graduate educational underemployment (overeducation) in this era of mass higher education. Using a new, validated, index of graduate jobs, we find that the prevalence of graduate underemployment across 21 countries is correlated with the aggregate supply–demand imbalance, but not with indicators of labour market flexibility. Underemployment’s association with lower job satisfaction and pay is widespread. Yet in most countries there are external benefits (social trust, volunteering, and political efficacy) associated with higher education, even for those who are underemployed. Taken together with existing studies we find that, in this era of mass higher education participation, under-employment is a useful indicator of the extent of macroeconomic disequilibrium in the graduate labour market. We conclude that governments should monitor graduate underemployment, but that higher education policy should be based on social returns and should recall higher education’s wider purposes.


Green, F., Henseke, G. and Vignoles, A. (2016 online). "". British Educational Research Journal.

Though a relatively small part of the school sector, private schools have an important role in British society, and there are policy concerns about their negative effect on social mobility. Other studies show that individuals who have attended a private school go on to have higher levels of educational achievement, are more likely to secure a high status occupation and also have higher wages. In this paper we contribute new evidence on the magnitude of the wage premium, and address a puzzle found in previous studies: how to explain the direct pay premium whereby privately educated male workers have higher wages even than their similarly-educated peers. It is commonly conjectured that the broader curriculum that private schools are able to deliver, coupled with the peer pressures of a partially segregated section of society, help to inculcate cultural capital, including some key "non-cognitive" attributes. We focus here on leadership, organisational participation and an acceptance of hard work. We find that privately educated workers are in jobs that require significantly greater leadership skills, offer greater organisational participation and require greater work intensity. These associations are partially mediated by educational achievement. Collectively these factors contribute little, however, to explaining the direct pay premium. Rather, a more promising account arises from the finding that inclusion of a variable for industry reduces the private school premium to an insignificant amount, which is consistent with selective sorting of privately-educated workers into high-paying industries.


Henseke, G (2017) The European Journal of Health Economics (2017) (In press).

Using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, this study presents new evidence on the effects of job quality on the occurrence of severe acute conditions, the level of cardiovascular risk factors, musculoskeletal disorders, mental health, functional disabilities and self-assessed health among workers aged 50?. By combining intrinsic job quality with job insecurity and pay the study maps out multiple potential pathways through which work may affect health and well-being. Levering longitudinal data and external information on early retirement ages allows for accounting of unobserved heterogeneity, selection bias and reverse causality. The empirical findings suggest that inequities in health correlate with inequities in job quality, though a substantial fraction of these associations reflect time-constant unobserved heterogeneity. Still, there is evidence for genuine protective effects of better jobs on musculoskeletal disorders, mental health and general health. The effect could contribute to a substantial number of avoidable disorders among older workers, despite relatively modest effect sizes at the level of individuals. Mental health, in particular, responds to changes in job quality. Selection bias such as the healthy worker effect does not alter the results. But the influence of job quality on health may be transitional among older workers. An in-depth analysis of health dynamics reveals no evidence for persistence.


Green, F. and G. Henseke (2016). "". IZA Journal of Labor Policy, 5:14. 

This paper examines differentiation in the recent evolving graduate labour market in Britain. Using a novel statistically-derived indicator of graduate jobs, based on job skill requirements in 3-digit occupations obtained from the British Skills and Employment Survey series, we analyse trends in the labour market between 1997/2001 and 2006/2012. The indicator performs better than other indicators in validation tests, could be applied flexibly in other contexts, and is available in an appendix. We find that the massive influx of graduates into the labour force has been absorbed with no increase in overeducation. However, the returns to graduation have become more dispersed, with those at the upper quartile of the residual distribution increasing, while those at the lowest quartile have fallen. The wage gap between matched and overeducated graduates increased by 11 log points. Using the British Household Panel Study we find that the persistence of overeducation status did not change but for non-employed male graduates moving into employment the chances of entering a graduate job decreased.


Felstead, A., D. Gallie, F. Green and G. Henseke (2016 online). "." Economic and Industrial Democracy. . DOI: 10.1177/0143831X16656412

Employers, workers and governments all have a stake in improving intrinsic job quality since it can help to raise worker well-being and lower the social costs of ill-health.  This paper provides a unique insight into factors triggering changes to two key aspects of intrinsic job quality – the skills used and developed at work, and in the pressures under which work is carried out.  Using a rare two-wave panel dataset, the paper assesses whether three major predicted determinants – namely employee involvement, teamworking and computerisation – are good or bad for these aspects of intrinsic job quality.


Gallie, D., A. Felstead, F. Green and H. Inanc (2016 online). "The Hidden Face of Job Insecurity." Work, Employment and Society.

Drawing on nationally representative data for British employees, the article argues for a more comprehensive concept of job insecurity, including not only job tenure insecurity but also job status insecurity, relating to anxiety about changes to valued features of the job.  It shows that job status insecurity is highly prevalent in the workforce and is associated with different individual, employment and labour market characteristics than those that affect insecurity about job loss.  It is also related to different organisational contexts. However, the article also shows that the existence of effective mechanisms of employee participation can reduce both types of job insecurity.


Green, F., A. Felstead, D. Gallie and G. Henseke (2016). “”. Journal for Labour Market Research. 49 (2), 121-132.  doi:10.1007/s12651-016-0197-x. OA. Also, see editorial for this volume.


Green, F. (2015 online). “Health Effects of Insecurity”. IZA World of Labor 2015: 212.

Research has shown that job insecurity affects both mental and physical health, though the effects are lower when employees are easily re-employable. The detrimental effects of job insecurity can also be partly mitigated by employers allowing greater employee participation in workplace decision-making in order to ensure fair procedures. But as job insecurity is felt by many more people than just the unemployed, the negative health effects during recessions are multiplied and extend through the majority of the population. This reinforces the need for more effective, stabilising macroeconomic policies.


Green, F., A. Felstead, D. Gallie, H. Inanc and N. Jewson (2016). "The Declining Volume of Workers' Training in Britain." British Journal of Industrial Relations. 54 (2) pp. 422-448. .

We piece together from multiple surveys a picture of the trend in workers’ training in Britain. The conventional focus on participation rate movements has obscured a radical transformation in training. The duration of training fell sharply with the result that the training volume per worker declined by about a half between 1997 and 2012. The fall was greatest among the young, those in the lowest education groups, and those living in Northern Ireland. Potential explanations for such a large fall in training volume are discussed. We conclude with recommendations to improve the collection of training statistics.


Felstead, A., D. Gallie, Green, F.and H. Inanc (2015). “Fits, misfits and interactions: learning at work, job satisfaction and job-related employee well-being”. Human Resource Management Journal.

The resource-based view (RBV) of the firm has focused attention on the importance of aligning employees’ needs with the requirements of the jobs they do.  This paper focuses on how these needs and requirements interact in terms of learning.  It does so in two ways.  First, it develops new survey instruments to capture the learning demands of jobs and the learning dispositions of workers, and uses them for the first time in a survey of 2,810 employees.  Secondly, it examines how these person and job characteristics correlate with specific aspects of job satisfaction and job-related employee well-being.  The results show that while learning alignment is associated with high levels of satisfaction and well-being, not all learning misalignments are associated with the reverse.  This is because some of the benefits of higher learning demands are enjoyed by employees regardless of their learning disposition.


Green, F., A. Felstead, D. Gallie and H. Inanc (2016). "Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession." Journal of Happiness Studies.

We study how job-related well-being (measured by Warr’s ‘Enthusiasm’ and ‘Contentment’ scales) altered through the Great Recession, and how this is related to changing job quality. Using nationally representative data for Britain, we find that job-related well-being was stable between 2001 and 2006, but then declined between 2006 and 2012. We report relevant changes in job quality. In modelling the determinants of job-related well-being, we confirm several previously-studied hypotheses and present some new findings: downsizing, work re-organistion, decreased choice, and linking pay to organisational performance each reduce well-being; indicators of skills challenge in jobs have more of a positive association with Enthusiasm than with Contentment, while effort has a more negative association with Contentment than with Enthusiasm. Our estimates are largely orthogonal to the effects of personality traits and demographic controls on well-being. Using a standard decomposition, we find that the 2006-2012 fall in job-related well-being is partly accounted for by accelerations in the pace of workplace change, rising job insecurity, increased effort and changing participation.

Inanc, H., Y. Zhou, A. Felstead, D. Gallie and F. Green (2015). "." Work and Occupations. 42 (4) 447-475..

The creation of a learning environment at work has been seen as an essential concomitant of the growth of an advanced economy. The paper explores the implications of direct participation for different types of employee learning, drawing upon the British Skills and Employment Surveys of 2006 and 2012. It confirms that direct participation is strongly associated with enhanced learning opportunities at work, but finds important differences in the benefits of specific forms of direct participation. Moreover, direct participation was found to be particularly important for those in less favourable work contexts with respect to technological level and skill.


Gallie, D, Felstead, A, Green, F and Inanc, H, (2014) ‘The quality of work in Britain over the economic crisis’ International Review of Sociology—Revue Internationale de Sociologie, Vol. 24, No. 2, 1–18.



Papers in Edited Books

Felstead, A., F.Green, and D. Gallie (2016) "Measuring the contours of skills:stock, demand and mismatchin Buchanan, J., D. Finegold, K. Mayhew and C. Warhurst (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Green, F. & Mason, G. 2015. 'Skills and training for a more innovation-intensive economy.' In D. Bailey, K. Cowling & P. Tomlinson (Eds.) New Perspectives on Industrial Policy for a Modern Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


d) Working Papers and Reports

Green, F. (2016) .”  Evidence presented to Go Science and Foresight project: “Future of Skills and Lifelong Learning”.

Henseke, G. and F. Green  (2016), "Graduate Jobs" in OECD Countries: Analysis Using A New Indicator Based on High Skills Use", OECD Education Working Papers, No. 144, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Felstead, A., F. Green and N. Jewson (2013). Training in Recession: The impact of the 2008-2009 recession on training at work, UK Commission for Employment and Skills, Evidence Report 72.

Green, F. and A. Felstead. (2013) What’s Been Happening To Training? The Workers’ Perspective, Skills Development Scotland, Skills in Focus series.

Felstead, A. and F. Green. (2013) Underutilization, Overqualification And Skills Mismatch: Patterns And Trends, Skills Development Scotland, Skills in Focus series

Felstead, A., Gallie, D., Green, F. & Inanc, H. 2013. Skills At Work In Britain. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education.

Felstead, A., Gallie, D., Green, F. & Inanc, H. 2013. Work Intensification In Britain. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education.

Gallie, D., Felstead, A., Green, F. & Inanc, H. 2013. Fear At Work In Britain. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education.

Green, F., Gallie, D., Felstead, A. & Inanc, H. 2013. Job-Related Well-Being in Britain. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education.

Green, F., Gallie, D., Felstead, A. & Inanc, H. 2013. Training In Britain. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education.

Inanc, H., Gallie, D., Felstead, A. & Green, F. 2013. Job Control In Britain. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education.


e) Other Articles (Non-Refereed)/Online/Blogs.

Green, F., Felstead, A. and Gallie, D. “Job quality and inequality. The unequal world of work in the UK, 1986–2012”. Juncture. Institute for Public Policy Research.

Hidden Sins Of Economic Crisis: The Problem Of Work In Recession And Austerity. LLAKES blog, 26/3/2015.

Green, F. and G. Henseke. ‘The Recent Trend for “Graduate Jobs”, Using a New Indicator’. Graduate Market Trends, Spring 2015.

Green, F. Private schools are booming -- but what do you really get for your money? The Conversation, 3rd July 2014.



g) Invited Presentations (F.Green):                                                

"The effects of private schools in Britain: an overview and evaluation of evidence." Dept of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent. 26/1/2017.

"Graduate jobs", Institute for Employment Research, Warwick University, 9/11/16.

 “Employment in graduate jobs”. Education and Employers Conference, Dept for Education, 21/7/2016.

"Decent Jobs and Wage-led Growth in the UK and Europe", Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre, University of Greenwich, 28/4/2016..

 “The unequal world of work”, Leeds University Business School, 23/3/2016.

"Job Quality in a Liberal Market Economy", TWAIN closing workshop, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, 25/11/2015.

"Changes in Job Quality", Conference of Eurofound and the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Luxembourg, 24/11/2015.

“High-skilled jobs and the employment of graduates”, OECD 2nd PIAAC Conference, Amsterdam, 23/11/2015.

“Job quality in Britain”, presentation to experts advisory group to European Working Conditions Survey, Brussels, 25/1/2015.

UKCES/LLAKES Master Class. "Graduate jobs: concept, measurement and analysis." 23/04/2015.

"Unions and Job Quality", presentation to "Conference on Trade Unions, Inequality and Pay Stagnation, LSE, 12/12/2014.

“The Changing Graduate Labour Market: Analysis Using a New Indicator of Graduate Jobs”BIS Academic Panel, 13/10/2014.
“Trends and Inequality in Workers’ Training”, Workshop on Economics of Education, University of Barcelona, 16-17 Sept., 2014.

“Things we don’t know about individuals’ skills mismatch”, Conference on Skills Mismatch, ZEW, Mannheim; 11/4/2014.

"Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession", University of Westminster, 22/1/2014.

"Job Skills in Britain", the Centre for Literacy Fall Institute, Interpreting PIAAC Results: Understanding Competencies of the Future; 27/10/2013, Montreal.

"Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession", University of Kent, 23/10/2013.

"What’s Been Happening To Training? The Workers’ Perspective", Skills Development Scotland, 20/6/2013.

"Changes in the World of Work?  First Findings from WERS and the Skills and Employment Survey" (with John Forth and Stephen Wood), BUIRA Annual Conference, Stratchclyde, 27/6/13.

"Job-related subjective well-being: Evidence from the Skills Survey", Conference on Recent Developments in Labour Economics, Queen Mary College, 26/6/2013.

"Trends in job-related well-being: Evidence from the Skills and Employment Survey", "Beyond GDP" Workshop, held at British Academy, 23/5/2013.

"The decline of job-related training in Britain", Kings College, London, 22/5/2013.