Published in Health Economics Review, a new study has found that working fewer hours is associated with higher life satisfaction, which is mediated by one’s level of health. Other factors that contribute to higher life satisfaction include social inclusion, social trust, feelings of safety, and digitalization.
One’s amount of income has an impact on their satisfaction of life. Typically, people with higher incomes report higher life satisfaction and those who have less income report lower life satisfaction. Another area of interest is the relationship between time spent working and well-being. Previous research shows that both partnered men and women report higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being when working part-time compared to working full-time. Other research suggests that time spent working is correlated with happiness.
Researcher Qinglong Shao was interested in investigating the relationship between time spent working and life satisfaction in relation to the mediating effects of health. Shao also sought to examine the effects of social inclusion social trust, feelings of safety, and digitalization on life satisfaction. Shao was also interested in the association between time spent working and level of income. Lastly, Shao investigated job satisfaction among different occupations.
Shao analyzed 18,060 responses from 10 relevant surveys that inquired about life satisfaction, working time variables, health, social inclusion, social trust, feelings of safety, digitalization, income, marital status, and other demographic information. The six different job types included in Shao’s analysis were occupations in central or local government, education and health, state-owned enterprise, private firm, self-employment, and “other” category.
Results from this study show that working fewer hours was correlated with higher life satisfaction. Shao suggests this finding may exist because people enjoy working less hours to spend time with family and have time for other commitments/responsibilities. Shao also suggests that people in European countries may enjoy working less because more of their earnings are taken out of their paychecks and given to the government to help support the welfare system.
Shao also found that working part-time positively affected health and positive health was associated with greater life satisfaction. Life satisfaction was also positively correlated with trust, social inclusion, and feelings of safety. Regarding income, Shao found that income was positively correlated with life satisfaction, implying that those who work part-time and report higher life satisfaction are earning higher income.
In alignment with previous research, Shao also found that life satisfaction and happiness increased with age. However, gender has a negative effect on life satisfaction in which males are less likely to be happy than females. Shao found that workers in private firms prefer to work less hours to achieve higher life satisfaction whereas no significant relationships were found between other occupations and desire to work a certain amount to affect life satisfaction.
Overall, Shao found that women prefer to work less hours per week than men which tends to increase life satisfaction among women. Lastly, income among the middle class was significantly more impactful on life satisfaction compared to the upper/rich class. Shao suggests that middle class workers tend to report higher life satisfaction than upper class workers because the middle class require additional income to be upwardly mobile, which can be motivating.
The study, “Does less working time improve life satisfaction? Evidence from European Social Survey“, was published