Background. In recent years, awareness of the importance of the quality of jobs has grown in Europe. This is amongst others reflected in the Lisbon Strategy and the Europe 2020 targets, where quantitative employment targets (i.e. increasing employment rates) are complemented with the objective of increasing job quality. Analytically, job quality can be divided in two components: intrinsic 'work quality' (job content and working conditions) and 'employment quality'. The job content points to the nature of work tasks, such as the extent of autonomy for workers. Working conditions refer to physical, biochemical and psychosocial exposures and demands related to a job. Employment quality also consists of two components. Employment conditions concern the mutual agreements between employees and their employer about the organisation of employment in terms of contract, rewards, working hours, etc., while employment relations refer to the formal as well as informal relationships between workers and employmers. Although most research concerning job quality has focused on job content or working conditions, it are probably employment conditions and relations that have seen the strongest changes from the end of the 1970's onwards. A process of 'de-standardisation', as a result of increased flexibility and competitiveness demands, 'eroded' the model of industrial mass production of the Post-Second World War period. These profound changes in the nature of employment are compelling the need to assess the relations between these new forms of de-standardised employment and individual workers' health and well-being. Similar analyses have already been performed, using either job insecurity feelings, contractual arrangements or organisational restructuring processes as proxy indicators to measure 'de-standardised' employment. We, however, want to propose a multifaceted concept of 'employment quality', in order to measure contemporary employment arrangements in a more nuanced and complete way.

Objectives. The goal of this study is to investigate - in a sample of European wage-earners from the EU27 - the relationships between employment quality on the one hand and three indicators reflecting the well-being of individual workers (job satisfaction, health or safety at risk because of work and the ability to stay in employment until the age of 60) on the other hand.

Methods. Data from the EUROFOUND 2005 European Working Conditions Survey are used. This cross-sectional dataset contains information on more than 30.000 workers from 31 countries (the EU27, Croatia, Norway, Turkey and Switzerland). First of all, Latent Class Clustering techniques are applied to construct a typology of contemporary employment arrangements, based on seven different features of employment quality: [1] employment (in)stability, [2] (low) material rewards, [3] (erosion of) workers' rights and social protection, [4] (de-)standardised working time arrangements, [5] (limited) employability opportunities, [6] collective (dis)organisation and [7] (im)balanced interpersonal power relations. Afterwards, binary logistic regression analyses are used to relate the typology to the following outcomes on the level of individual workers: job satisfaction, the assessment of the ability to stay in employment until the age of 60 and the perception of health or safety being at risk because of work.

Results. The results of the cluster analysis show five types of employment arrangements, each with a unique answering pattern regarding the indicators of employment quality: (1) 'standard employment-like jobs'; (2) 'instrumental jobs'; (3) 'precarious intensive jobs'; (4) 'precarious unsustainable jobs' and (5) 'portfolio jobs' (Van Aerden et al. 2013). Preliminary analyses show a clear relationship between this typology and the three selected outcomes, even when controlled for the other characteristics of job quality: job content and working conditions. The final results will be presented at the conference.

Conclusion. The typological approach to the measurement of employment quality provides innovative insights into the structuring of contemporary employment arrangements among European wage-earners and the consequences for individual workers' well-being. The results are in line with previous research on the association between non-standard employment arrangements and adverse outcomes in terms of health and well-being. The results of this study will raise awareness to the health and well-being consequences of the increased demand for employment flexibility and competitiveness.

Van Aerden, K., Moors, G., Levecque, K., Vanroelen, C. (2013). Measuring employment
arrangements in the European labour force: a typological approach., Social Indicators
Research, [Published online] - IPF: 1.131 (2011).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPaper presented at the 2nd ESHMS-Meeting on Comparative research in health sociology and social epidemiology in European societies
Place of PublicationGhent, Belgium
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2013
EventUnknown -
Duration: 20 Jun 2013 → …


Period20/06/13 → …

    Research areas

  • Employment quality, Job quality, Well-being

ID: 2439500