alexa Is job satisfaction U-shaped in age?
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): Clark A, Oswald A, Warr P

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It is generally believed that job satisfaction increases linearly with age. However, there are persuasive arguments, and some empirical evidence, that the relationship is U-shaped, declining from a moderate level in the early years of employment and then increasing steadily up to retirement. This paper investigates that relationship, using survey responses from a large sample of British employees. For overall job satisfaction, satisfaction with pay, and satisfaction with the work itself, a strongly significant U-shape is observed. Ordered probit techniques, which take account of the ordinality of satisfaction data, are used to analyse the relationship between these forms of satisfaction and a large set of individual and job characteristics. Despite the inclusion of 80 control variables, significant coefficients persist for the age and age-squared variables (the latter representing the non-linear component). The paper thus provides strong evidence for a U-shaped relationship between age and job satisfaction. Furthermore, it is shown that a similar age pattern occurs for employees' context-free mental health, suggesting that both job satisfaction and context-free mental health are affected by non-job factors of life-stage and personal circumstances. The importance of changes in expectations with increasing age is emphasized.

This article was published in Journal of Occupat-ional and Organtzat-ional Psychology and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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