Mihaela Vancea, Jennifer Shore, Mireia Utzet
Role of employment-related inequalities in young adults’ life satisfaction: A comparative study in five European welfare state regimes

Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 2019: 47, issue 3, pp. 357-365
ISSN: 1403-4948 (print); 1651-1905 (online)

Aims: There is evidence that young people are less satisfied with their lives when they are unemployed or working in precarious conditions. This study aims to shed light on how the life satisfaction of unemployed and precariously employed young people varies across welfare states with different labour market policies and levels of social protection. Methods: The analyses are based on representative cross-sectional survey data from five European countries (Denmark, the UK, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic), corresponding to five different welfare state regimes. For economically active young adults (N=6681), the prevalence ratios of low life satisfaction were estimated through multivariate logistic regressions. Results: In all five countries, unemployed young adults presented a higher prevalence of low life satisfaction. When we compared employees with people with permanent and temporary contracts, the former were more satisfied with their lives only in Germany and the UK, examples of conservative and liberal welfare regimes, respectively. Experience of unemployment decreased young adults’ life satisfaction only in Germany and the Czech Republic, examples of a conservative and an eastern European welfare regime, respectively. In almost all countries, young adults with low economic self-sufficiency presented a higher prevalence of low life satisfaction. Conclusions: There are nuanced patterns of employment type and life satisfaction across European states that hint at welfare state regimes as possible moderators in this relationship. The results suggest that the psychological burdens of unemployment or work uncertainty cannot be overlooked and should be addressed according to different types of social provisions