Employment and well-being are often not correlated in India, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Peru

Newswise – Not all jobs are ‘good jobs’, and new research from the Universities of East Anglia (UEA) and Birmingham reveals that such work can have a negative impact on well-being.

The team examined how employment status and job attributes relate to the well-being of young people in India, Ethiopia, Peru and Vietnam. The analysis also examined the impact of childhood experiences and family circumstances on adult outcomes, and the association between well-being and access to wealth, particularly in the form of household assets. durable consumption such as phones, televisions, bicycles or cars.

The research, “Is the work enough? Youth well-being and employment in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam ”, is published today in Development Policy Review.

Particularly in countries where formal sector jobs are scarce and people often hold jobs for which they are overqualified, employment has no positive unqualified effect on well-being. Job attributes matter, especially who employs the individual, their salary, the work environment and the pride they take in their work.

Previous studies have mainly focused on developed countries, where labor market conditions are very different and social protections are more widely available.

In low- and middle-income countries, large informal sectors are still responsible for creating a significant share of employment; but the work is often precarious and can be risky, poorly paid and undertaken in poor conditions. Such work limits potential and may not contribute to the general well-being associated with health and longevity.

With limited “good jobs” – those that are secure, well paid and offer social protection – people have to create their own jobs or take jobs that offer limited satisfaction and financial insecurity, which can lead to worry, loss of life and financial insecurity. depression and a generally weaker life. Satisfaction.

Unemployment insurance is also largely absent, and people with limited access to resources cannot afford to remain unemployed while seeking better employment.

In the context of the four study countries, the type of job is relevant. Working for oneself or for another individual or household is associated with lower well-being than working for a private company, cooperative or public sector / government organization. An “irregular” job with low wages often equates to misery, one of the study’s authors said.

Dr Nicholas Vasilakos, associate professor of sustainable business economics and public policy at the Norwich Business School of the UEA, said investing in youth employment is at the heart of development agendas and would help countries achieve the United Nations sustainable development goal of decent work for all by 2030.

Dr Vasilakos said: “Policy aimed at increasing employment rates among young people must take into account the welfare implications of the different types of jobs they can access.

“Our research shows that policy in less developed countries must target inequalities in life earlier as well as labor market barriers and imperfections that restrict young people’s access to good jobs.

Professor Fiona Carmichael, Professor of Labor Economics at the University of Birmingham, said: “Employment policies for young people must target those who are marginalized by labor market structures which tend to reinforce the benefits of young people. more educated and wealthier. Targeted employment and training programs can help provide young people with skills and experience that improve their productivity and employability.

Dr Christian Darko, Senior Lecturer in Applied Business and Labor Economics at the University of Birmingham, said: “Having a good job is fundamental to improving living standards and quality of life. Good jobs bring greater well-being to those who hold them, and their value to society is higher. A good job can provide a sense of belonging which improves social inclusion.

“In contrast, poor working conditions can lead to frustration, reduce well-being and potentially fuel a sense of social injustice that weakens social cohesion. “

Pride at work is positively and significantly associated with well-being. A poorer quality physical work environment is significantly associated with lower well-being.

Not surprisingly, well-being is also higher in higher income jobs and where the physical work environment is more conducive to health and safety.

The study data comes from the Young Lives Project, a longitudinal cohort study of child poverty that follows the lives of 12,000 children in India, Ethiopia, Peru and Vietnam.

Youth in Peru scored the highest on the Wellbeing Scale and those in India scored the lowest.

Overall, 78 percent of young people were employed when surveyed at age 22 (86 percent of men and 71 percent of women), with the highest employment participation in Vietnam and the lower in India. The household wealth index was highest for women and highest in Vietnam.

Of the four countries, inequality was highest in India and Peru and lowest in Vietnam and Ethiopia. World Bank estimates also indicated that income distribution is most unequal in Peru and India, and more equal in Vietnam. The figures showed that the distribution of income in Peru and India is more unequal than in the United States, by far the most unequal country in the north of the world.

Well-being is also predicted by current and child health and household wealth, with possession of durable consumer goods being more strongly associated with well-being than with housing quality or access to services. Greater exposure to shocks – such as the death of a close relative, starvation and conflict – from the age of eight is found to have lasting effects on well-being through to age. adult.

“Is the work enough? Youth well-being and employment in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam ”, is published on August 6, 2021 in the journal Development Policy Review.

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