The Well-being of the Overemployed and the Underemployed and the Rise in Depression in the UK
In this paper we build on our earlier work on underemployment using data from the UK. In particular, we explore their well-being based on hours preferences rather than on involuntary part-time work used in the prior literature. We make use of five main measures of well-being: happiness; life satisfaction; whether life is worthwhile; anxiety and depression. The underemployed have higher levels of well-being than the unemployed and disabled but lower levels than any other group of workers, full or part-time. The more that actual hours differ from preferred hours the lower is a worker's well-being. This is true for those who say they want more hours (the underemployed) and those who say they want less (the over employed).
We find strong evidence of a rise in depression and anxiety (negative affect) in the years since the onset of austerity in 2010 that is not matched by declines in happiness measures (positive affect). The fear of unemployment obtained from monthly surveys from the EU has also been on the rise since 2015. We find evidence of an especially large rise in anxiety and depression among workers in general and the underemployed in particular. The underemployed don't want to be underemployed.
The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
David N.F. Bell & David G. Blanchflower, 2019. "The well-being of the overemployed and the underemployed and the rise in depression in the UK," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol 161, pages 180-196. citation courtesy of