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Journal Article

Unemployment, temporary work, and subjective well-being: the gendered effect of spousal labor market insecurity


Publication date

Jun 2018


The negative impact of unemployment on individuals and its spillover to spouses is widely documented. However, we have a gap in our knowledge when it comes to the similar consequences of temporary employment. This is problematic, because although temporary jobs are often considered better alternatives to unemployment for endowing individuals with income and opportunities to connect to employers, they are also associated with stressors such as high levels of job insecurity and poor quality work, the effects of which might spill over to spouses. Using matched data from the British Household Panel Study, I show that temporary work is at least as detrimental as unemployment for spouses’ subjective well-being, although there are differences. When experienced by husbands, temporary work, like unemployment, has a negative effect on wives’ psychological well-being and life satisfaction. Yet, as opposed to unemployment, wives’ temporary employment also spills over and negatively affects husbands’ psychological well-being. Furthermore, coupled individuals’ well-being is most affected when men are either unemployed or temporarily employed and their wives have permanent jobs, suggesting that the effect is related to gender deviation. The effects are robust after controlling for fixed individual characteristics that can influence both employment status and well-being outcomes.

Published in

American Sociological Review

Volume and page numbers

83 , 536 -566





Labour Market, Unemployment, Well Being, Sociology Of Households, and Social Psychology


University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to University of Essex registered users* -


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