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Irish workers have world's highest job satisfaction levels

Originally Published - 10 March 1999

New research by the University of Warwick reveals that Irish workers have the highest job satisfaction levels in the Western world.

Professor Andrew Oswald from University of Warwick's Department of Economics, in collaboration with Professor David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College in the US studied a random sample of 24,000 workers, from 18 countries. These employees, were interviewed face-to-face, and quizzed about how satisfied they were with their jobs. Southern Ireland scored the top marks across the whole sample of nations.

The survey revealed that 57% of Irish workers were "very satisfied" with their jobs, 38% said moderately satisfied, 4% a little dissatisfied, and 1% very dissatisfied. The only other European country close to this was Denmark with 50% very satisfied. The US also had 50%. Most nations were much lower. In the United Kingdom, for example, only 38% of employees rated themselves as very satisfied, and 14% were dissatisfied. In Greece it was a mere 11% who were very satisfied and in Portugal 21%. Hungary was also very low. The researchers are unsure as to just why Irish workers should be the most satisfied. Professor Oswald said:-

"I suppose we all have visions of Ireland as a relaxed, friendly people centred country. Perhaps people just enjoy life, including their jobs, a lot more there. It may be that low commuting times also play a role."

Intriguingly, the research shows that highly qualified workers are not always the most satisfied. Professor Oswald said:-

"I think there is something one might call the curse of high aspirations. People with high levels of education appear to be much less easy to please than those with little formal education. Paradoxically, university degrees may buy a certain amount of discontent."

Among many other statistical findings, the authors show that across the Western countries job satisfaction is higher amoung women, that if one was to plot a graph of job satisfaction against age that graph would be U shaped dipping to a minimium around the mid 30s.

The research also shows that people prefer small workplaces, that the self-employed are unusually content, that those who commute long distances are much less happy with their working lives. Also (as expected) people are more satisfied if they earn high wages and work hours that are not too long, that bosses are more satisfied, and that public sector workers tends to be happier at work. The study also finds a big role for job security as a major and positive effect on people's reported level of wellbeing.

For further information please contact:

Professor Andrew Oswald
Department of Economics
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
Tel: 024 76 523510 (Office), 01367 860005 (Home)
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