Published in Health Economics Review, a new study found that working fewer hours is associated with higher life satisfaction, which is mediated by health status. Other factors that contribute to greater life satisfaction are social inclusion, social trust, feelings of security and digitization.
The level of income has an impact on life satisfaction. Typically, people with higher incomes report higher life satisfaction and those with lower incomes report lower life satisfaction. Another area of interest is the link between working hours and well-being. Previous research shows that both men and women in relationships report higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being when working part-time than when working full-time. Other research suggests that working hours correlate with happiness.
Researcher Qinglong Shao was interested in investigating the relationship between working hours and life satisfaction in relation to the mediating effects of health. Shao also wanted to study the impact of social inclusion, social trust, sense of security, and digitization on life satisfaction. Shao was also interested in the relationship between working hours and income levels. Finally, Shao examined job satisfaction in different occupations.
Shao analyzed 18,060 responses from 10 relevant surveys asking about life satisfaction, working time variables, health, social inclusion, social trust, sense of security, digitization, income, marital status, and other demographic information. The six different job types considered in Shao’s analysis were central or local government, education and healthcare, state-owned companies, private companies, self-employed, and in the “Other” category.
The results of this study show that working fewer hours correlates with higher life satisfaction. Shao suggests that this finding may exist because people like to work fewer hours to spend time with family and have time for other commitments/tasks. Shao also points out that people in European countries are happy to work less because more of their income is taken from their paychecks and given to the government to support the welfare system.
Shao also found that part-time work had a positive impact on health, and that positive health was associated with greater life satisfaction. Life satisfaction was also positively correlated with trust, social inclusion, and feelings of security. Regarding income, Shao found that income is positively correlated with life satisfaction, meaning those who work part-time and report higher life satisfaction have higher income.
Consistent with previous research, Shao also found that life satisfaction and happiness increase with age. However, gender has a negative impact on life satisfaction, with men being less happy than women. Shao found that workers in private companies prefer to work fewer hours to achieve higher life satisfaction, while no significant relationships were found between other occupations and the desire to work a certain amount to affect life satisfaction.
Overall, Shao found that women prefer to work fewer hours per week than men, which tends to increase women’s life satisfaction. Finally, income had a significantly stronger impact on life satisfaction in the middle class than in the upper/rich class. Shao points out that middle-class workers tend to report higher life satisfaction than upper-class workers because the middle class needs additional income to be upwardly mobile, which can be motivating.
The study “Does less working time improve life satisfaction? Evidence from European Social Survey”.