Demanding Work: The Paradox of Job Quality in the Affluent Economy by Francis GreenDemanding Work: The Paradox of Job Quality in the Affluent Economy by Francis Green

Demanding Work: The Paradox of Job Quality in the Affluent Economy

byFrancis Green

Paperback | August 12, 2007

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Since the early 1980s, a vast number of jobs have been created in the affluent economies of the industrialized world. Many workers are doing more skilled and fulfilling jobs, and getting paid more for their trouble. Yet it is often alleged that the quality of work life has deteriorated, with a substantial and rising proportion of jobs providing low wages and little security, or requiring unusually hard and stressful effort.

In this unique and authoritative formal account of changing job quality, economist Francis Green highlights contrasting trends, using quantitative indicators drawn from public opinion surveys and administrative data. In most affluent countries average pay levels have risen along with economic growth, a major exception being the United States. Skill requirements have increased, potentially meaning a more fulfilling time at work. Set against these beneficial trends, however, are increases in inequality, a strong intensification of work effort, diminished job satisfaction, and less employee influence over daily work tasks. Using an interdisciplinary approach,Demanding Workshows how aspects of job quality are related, and how changes in the quality of work life stem from technological change and transformations in the politico-economic environment. The book concludes by discussing what individuals, firms, unions, and governments can do to counter declining job quality.

Francis Green, Professor of Economics at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, is the coauthor ofEducation for Training and Development in East AsiaandEducation, Training, and the Global Economy, and the coauthor or editor of nine other books. He is an editor of theBritish Journal of Industrial Relations, and he provides perio...
Title:Demanding Work: The Paradox of Job Quality in the Affluent EconomyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pagesPublished:August 12, 2007Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691134413

ISBN - 13:9780691134413


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi
Preface: The Quest for "More and Better Jobs" xv
Acknowledgments xxi
Abbreviations xxiii

Chapter One: Assessing Job Quality in the Affluent Economy 1
The Paradox of Job Quality at the Millennium 1
Revealing a History of the Present 3
The Changing World and the Everyday Workplace 5
What Makes a Good Job? 8
An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Job Quality 13
From Quality of Work Life to "Quality in Work"? 19
How to Measure a Good Job: Surveys of the Quality of Work Life 22

Chapter Two: The Quality of Work Life in the "Knowledge Economy" 24
An Optimistic Outlook 24
Theories of the Changing Demand for Skill 26
The Concept and Measurement of Skill 28
The Rising Level of Skill 29
Skills Polarization? 35
Skill, Technology, and Work Organization 37
The Skills Balance 40
Conclusion: A Mixed Verdict 42

Chapter Three: Late Twentieth-Century Trends in Work Effort 44
Working Hours, Work Effort, and the Quality of Work Life 44
The Concept and Measurement of Work Effort 47
Work Intensification in Britain 50
Work Intensification in Europe, Australia, and the United States 58
Any Objections? 61
Conclusion: A Summary of Effort Trends 64

Chapter Four: Accounting for Work Intensification 66
The Paradox of Work Intensification in the Affluent Economy 66
The Supply of Effort 67
"Amber Lights" and Effort-Biased Technological Change 69
Big Brother 77
The Changing Balance of Power 78
The Stick, the Carrot, and the Smooth Sell 81
Conclusion: The Role of Technological Change 84
Appendix: Multivariate Analyses 86

Chapter Five: Workers' Discretion 94
The Importance of Influence 94
The Workers' Voice 98
Theory about How Discretion Is Changing 99
Trends in Discretion 102
Conclusion: An Incomplete Account 107

Chapter Six: The Wages of Nations 111
Wages and the Fairness of Wages 111
The Growth of Average Wages 112
The Fairness of Wages 119
Conclusion: Alright for Some 123

Chapter Seven: Workers' Risk 126
Is This an Age of Uncertainty in the Workplace? 126
The Concept and Measurement of Job Insecurity 130
Workers' Perceptions of the Trend and Distribution of Job Risk 131
Objective Proxies for Risk 142
Conclusion: Risk and the Quality of Work Life 146

Chapter Eight: Workers' Well-Being 150
A Question of Well-Being 150
A Digression on the Notion of Subjective Well-Being 151
A Picture of the Changing Well-Being of Workers in the Industrialized World 153
Well-Being and the Quality of Jobs 160
Conclusion: The Quality of Work Life Is Strained 166
Appendix: Multivariate Analyses 168

Chapter Nine: Summary and Implications for Policy on the Quality of Work Life 170
The Rewards and Demands of Work in the Affluent Economy 170
Policy Implications 178
Data Set Appendix 185

Notes 193
References 203
Index of Names 219
General Index 223

Editorial Reviews

"This well-written book tells an interesting and important story in a natural way, addressing shifts in various aspects of job quality over recent years before finally summing things up and looking at policy issues. Reading it was an enjoyable-and informative-experience."-Andrew Clark, Department and Laboratory of Applied and Theoretical Economics (DELTA), école normale supérieure, Paris