Job Quality in the 21st Century

Project Lead

Francis Green



Policy-makers around the world have often expressed the aim of generating not only more, but also ‘better’ jobs. This project will consider the many conceptual and empirical issues in measuring job quality in multiple dimensions, and study trends in job quality in recent decades across multiple countries.

Research on job quality dates back hundreds of years, but by the start of this century the idea of aspiring for ‘more and better jobs’ had gained currency, not just among social science scholars but in the highest circles of some national governments and international organisations.

‘Job quality’ refers to much more than just the wages paid, including several domains that research has found to contribute to satisfying people’s needs from paid work. These include security and future prospects, the quality of the working time, and several intrinsic aspects of the work itself and the workplace environment. However, despite progress over the last two decades, and despite its important for people’s wellbeing, there remain conceptual confusions and huge gaps and inconsistencies in our understanding of job quality.

This project, which is based on secondary data analysis, is producing new knowledge about trends in job quality across many countries. The specific objectives are:

a) to produce clarity and consistency in the discussion of job quality, both among scholars of diverse disciplines and among policy-makers;

b) to describe and account where possible for trends in available indicators of job quality in various domains;

c) to devise and operationalise a consistent definition of ‘bad jobs’ across countries, and undertake an analysis of the determinants of bad jobs; and

d) to consider whether trends conform to expected patterns given the institutional similarities and differences between countries.

The project began on March 1st 2022 and will last for two years. Its first output is a Bruegel Working Paper in the summer of 2022 (see Findings).

In January 2023, the project will present the following paper at the CIPD Applied Research Conference at Manchester Business School:

Francis Green, Sangwoo Lee, Min Zhou and Ying ZhouWork and life: the comparative importance of job quality for general well-being.”


Berg, J., F. Green, L. Nurski and D. Spencer (2022) ‘Risks to job quality from  digital technologies: are industrial relations in Europe ready for the challenge? Working Paper 16/2022, Bruegel.