Employment Types and Subjective Wellbeing: Evidence from the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing

  • Samuelson AppauEmail author
  • Sefa Awaworyi Churchill
  • Lisa Farrell


Using seven waves of the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing (ELSA), this chapter examines the impact of labour market attachments on subjective wellbeing (SWB) and quality of life (QoL), during employment and retirement. The authors show that that permanent employees (as opposed to temporary employees) and self-employed (as opposed to paid employees) report higher levels of SWB and QoL throughout their working lives. They argue that this is because permanent employees and the self-employed become more attached to their jobs due to a perceived stronger job-identity fit. However, in retirement, withdrawal from the labour market represents a loss of this identity. Thus, a significant drop in SWB and QoL is observed for permanent employees and self-employed during retirement.


  1. Akay, A., Constant, A., & Giulietti, C. (2014). The impact of immigration on the well-being of natives. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 103, 72–92. Scholar
  2. Akerlof, G. A., & Kranton, R. E. (2008). Identity, supervision, and work groups. The American Economic Review, 98(2), 212–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alesina, A., Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2004). Inequality and happiness: Are Europeans and Americans different? Journal of Public Economics, 88, 2009–2042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arbona, C., Burridge, A., & Olvera, N. (2017). The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D): Measurement equivalence across gender groups in Hispanic college students. Journal of Affective Disorders, 219, 112–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ashforth, B. E., Harrison, S. H., & Corley, K. G. (2008). Identification in organizations: An examination of four fundamental questions. Journal of Management, 34(3), 325–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ashforth, B. E., & Mael, F. (1989). Social identity theory and the organization. Academy of Management Review, 14(1), 20–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Mishra, V. (2017). Trust, social networks and subjective wellbeing in China. Social Indicators Research, 132(1), 313–339. Scholar
  8. Banerjee, A. V., & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  9. Bardasi, E., & Francesconi, M. (2004). The impact of atypical employment on individual well-being: Evidence from a panel of British workers. Social Science and Medicine, 58, 1671–1688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barnes, H., & Parry, J. (2004). Renegotiating identity and relationships: Men and women’s adjustments to retirement. Ageing & Society, 24(2), 213–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Berger, J. (2017). Invisible influence: The hidden forces that shape behavior. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  13. Binder, M., & Blankenberg, A.-K. (2017). Green lifestyles and subjective well-being: More about self-image than actual behavior? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 137, 304–323. Scholar
  14. Blanchflower, D. G. (2000). Self-employment in OECD countries. Labour Economics, 7(5), 471–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2004). Well-being over time in Britain and the USA. Journal of Public Economics, 88, 1359–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bonsang, E., & Klein, T. J. (2012). Retirement and subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 83(3), 311–329. Scholar
  17. Brown, S., Farrell, L., Harris, M. N. & Sessions, J. (2006). Risk preference and employment contract type. The Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, 169(4), 1–15.Google Scholar
  18. Brown, S., Farrell, L., & Sessions, J. G. (2006). Employment contract matching: An analysis of dual earner couples and working households. Small Business Economics, 26, 155–172.Google Scholar
  19. Butler, S. (1903/1998). The way of all flesh. New York: Penguin Random House.Google Scholar
  20. Cai, S., & Park, A. (2016). Permanent income and subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 130, 298–319. Scholar
  21. Carlsen, A. (2006). Organizational becoming as dialogic imagination of practice: The case of the indomitable Gauls. Organization Science, 17(1), 132–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chen, Z., & Davey, G. (2008). Happiness and subjective wellbeing in mainland China. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(4), 589–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cheng, Z., & Smyth, R. (2015). Sex and happiness. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 112, 26–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chou, K.-L. (2008). Combined effect of vision and hearing impairment on depression in older adults: Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Affective Disorders, 106(1), 191–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Davis, B., & Pechmann, C. (2013). Introduction to the Special Issue on transformative consumer research: Developing theory to mobilize efforts that improve consumer and societal well-being. Journal of Business Research, 66(8), 1168–1170.Google Scholar
  26. De Cuyper, N., De Jong, J., De Witte, H., Isaksson, K., Rigotti, T., & Schalk, R. (2008). Literature review of theory and research on the psychological impact of temporary employment: Towards a conceptual model. International Journal of Management Reviews, 10(1), 25–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Diener, E. (1994). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. Social Indicators Research, 31(2), 103–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54(1), 403–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(1), 94–122. Scholar
  30. Dutton, J. E., Roberts, L. M., & Bednar, J. (2010). Pathways for positive identity construction at work: Four types of positive identity and the building of social resources. Academy of Management Review, 35(2), 265–293.Google Scholar
  31. Easterlin, R. A. (1995). Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 27(1), 35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. El Hedhli, K., Chebat, J. C., & Sirgy, M. J. (2013). Shopping well-being at the mall: Construct, antecedents, and consequences. Journal of Business Research, 66(7), 856–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ellison, C. G. (1991). Religious involvement and subjective well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 32, 80–99.Google Scholar
  34. Emran, M. S., & Shilpi, F. (2012). The extent of the market and stages of agricultural specialization. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d’économique, 45(3), 1125–1153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Falco, P., Maloney, W. F., Rijkers, B., & Sarrias, M. (2015). Heterogeneity in subjective wellbeing: An application to occupational allocation in Africa. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 111, 137–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Forde, C., & Slater, G. (2006). The nature and experience of agency working in Britain: What are the challenges for human resource management. Personnel Review, 35(2), 141–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Fournier, S. (1998). Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 24(4), 343–373.Google Scholar
  38. Hogg, M. A., & Terry, D. J. (2001). Social identity theory and organizational processes. In M. A. Hogg & D. J. Terry (Eds.), Social identity processes in organizational contexts (pp. 1–12). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  39. Howel, D. (2012). Interpreting and evaluating the CASP-19 quality of life measure in older people. Age and Ageing, 41(5), 612–617. Scholar
  40. Hsee, C. K., Yang, Y., Li, N., & Shen, L. (2009). Wealth, warmth, and well-being: Whether happiness is relative or absolute depends on whether it is about money, acquisition, or consumption. Journal of Marketing Research, 46(3), 396–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hyde, M., Wiggins, R. D., Higgs, P., & Blane, D. B. (2003). A measure of quality of life in early old age: The theory, development and properties of a needs satisfaction model (CASP-19). Aging & Mental Health, 7(3), 186–194. Scholar
  42. Ibarra, H., & Barbulescu, R. (2010). Identity as narrative: Prevalence, effectiveness, and consequences of narrative identity work in macro work role transitions. Academy of Management Review, 35(1), 135–154.Google Scholar
  43. Jackall, R. (1978). Workers in a labyrinth: Jobs and survival in a bank bureaucracy. Montclair, NJ: Allanheld & Schram.Google Scholar
  44. Johnson, M. D., Morgeson, F. P., Ilgen, D. R., Meyer, C. J., & Lloyd, J. W. (2006). Multiple professional identities: Examining differences in identification across work-related targets. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(2), 498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kautonen, T., Kibler, E., & Minniti, M. (2017). Late-career entrepreneurship, income and quality of life. Journal of Business Venturing, 32(3), 318–333. Scholar
  46. Kipnis, E., Broderick, A. J., Demangeot, C., Adkins, N. R., Ferguson, N. S., Henderson, G. R., … & Roy, A. (2013). Branding beyond prejudice: Navigating multicultural marketplaces for consumer well-being. Journal of Business Research, 66(8), 1186–1194.Google Scholar
  47. Lee, D. M., Nazroo, J., O’Connor, D. B., Blake, M., & Pendleton, N. (2016). Sexual health and well-being among older men and women in England: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(1), 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lewbel, A. (2012). Using heteroscedasticity to identify and estimate mismeasured and endogenous regressor models. Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 30(1), 67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Marmot, M., Oldfield, Z., Clemens, S., Blake, M., Phelps, A., Nazroo, J., … Oskala, A. (2017). English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: Waves 0-7, 1998-2015 [data collection] (27th ed.). UK Data Service. SN: 5050.
  50. McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Hogan, S. J., Witell, L., & Snyder, H. (2017). Cocreative customer practices: Effects of health care customer value cocreation practices on well-being. Journal of Business Research, 70, 55–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McHugh, J., Kenny, R., Lawlor, B., Steptoe, A., & Kee, F. (2017). The discrepancy between social isolation and loneliness as a clinically meaningful metric: Findings from the Irish and English longitudinal studies of ageing (TILDA and ELSA). International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 32(6), 664–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mishra, V., & Smyth, R. (2015). Estimating returns to schooling in urban China using conventional and heteroskedasticity-based instruments. Economic Modelling, 47, 166–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Moore, C. D., & Robinson, D. T. (2006). Selective identity preferences: Choosing from among alternative occupational identities. Advances in group processes (pp. 253–281). New York: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  54. Netuveli, G., Wiggins, R. D., Hildon, Z., Montgomery, S. M., & Blane, D. (2006). Quality of life at older ages: Evidence from the English longitudinal study of aging (wave 1). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60(4), 357–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Parasuraman, S., & Simmers, C. A. (2001). Type of employment, work–family conflict and well-being: A comparative study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(5), 551–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pierce, M., Zaninotto, P., Steel, N., & Mindell, J. (2009). Undiagnosed diabetes: Data from the English longitudinal study of ageing. Diabetic Medicine, 26(7), 679–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pinquart, M., & Sörensen, S. (2000). Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15(2), 187–224. Scholar
  58. Pratt, M. G., Rockmann, K. W., & Kaufmann, J. B. (2006). Constructing professional identity: The role of work and identity learning cycles in the customization of identity among medical residents. Academy of Management Journal, 49(2), 235–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Price, C. A. (2000). Women and retirement: Relinquishing professional identity. Journal of Aging Studies, 14(1), 81–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rigotti, T., & Mohr, G. (2005). German flexibility: Loosening the reins without losing control. In N. De Cuyper, K. Isaksson, & H. De Witte (Eds.), Employment contracts and well-being among European workers (pp. 75–102). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  62. Sexton, E., King-Kallimanis, B. L., Conroy, R. M., & Hickey, A. (2013). Psychometric evaluation of the CASP-19 quality of life scale in an older Irish cohort. Quality of Life Research, 22(9), 2549–2559. Scholar
  63. Shankar, A., Hamer, M., McMunn, A., & Steptoe, A. (2013). Social isolation and loneliness: Relationships with cognitive function during 4 years of follow-up in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Psychosomatic Medicine, 75(2), 161–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sim, J., Bartlam, B., & Bernard, M. (2011). The CASP-19 as a measure of quality of life in old age: Evaluation of its use in a retirement community. Quality of Life Research, 20(7), 997–1004. Scholar
  65. Stagl, J. M., Antoni, M. H., Lechner, S. C., Bouchard, L. C., Blomberg, B. B., Glück, S., … Carver, C. S. (2015). Randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioral stress management in breast cancer: A brief report of effects on 5-year depressive symptoms. Health Psychology, 34(2), 176.Google Scholar
  66. Steptoe, A., Breeze, E., Banks, J., & Nazroo, J. (2012). Cohort profile: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. International Journal of Epidemiology, 42(6), 1640–1648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Steptoe, A., & Wardle, J. (2012). Enjoying life and living longer. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(3), 273–275. Scholar
  68. Stets, J. E., & Burke, P. J. (2000). Identity theory and social identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 63, 224–237.Google Scholar
  69. Stone, K. V. W., & Arthurs, H. (2013). Rethinking workplace regulation: Beyond the standard contract of employment. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  70. Stryker, S., & Burke, P. J. (2000). The past, present, and future of an identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 63, 284–297.Google Scholar
  71. Tian, K., & Belk, R. W. (2005). Extended self and possessions in the workplace. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(2), 297–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Torres, J. L., Lima-Costa, M. F., Marmot, M., & de Oliveira, C. (2016). Wealth and disability in later life: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). PLOS One, 11(11), e0166825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Van Praag, B. M., Frijters, P., & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2003). The anatomy of subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 51(1), 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Virtanen, M., Kivimäki, M., Joensuu, M., Virtanen, P., Elovainio, M., & Vahtera, J. (2005). Temporary employment and health: A review. International Journal of Epidemiology, 34, 610–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wolanin, A., Hong, E., Marks, D., Panchoo, K., & Gross, M. (2016). Prevalence of clinically elevated depressive symptoms in college athletes and differences by gender and sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(3), 167–171. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuelson Appau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sefa Awaworyi Churchill
    • 1
  • Lisa Farrell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Economics, Finance and MarketingRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations