Bonus or burden? Care work, inequality, and job satisfaction in eighteen European countries
2019-10-16T12:10:58Z (GMT) by
While existing research highlights the feminized and devalued nature of care work, the relationship between care work and job satisfaction has not yet been tested cross-nationally. England (2005) outlines two theoretical frameworks that guide our thinking about this potential relationship: the Prisoner of Love framework suggests that, notwithstanding the explicit and implicit costs of care work, the intrinsic benefits of caring provide ‘psychic income’ and lead to greater job satisfaction; while the Commodification of Emotion framework suggests, instead, that care work generates additional stress and/or alienation for the worker, thereby resulting in lower job satisfaction. This article empirically tests this relationship in 18 countries using European Social Survey data and incorporating national-level factors. The results provide support for the Prisoner of Love framework, with variation based on the degree of professionalization. Although we find broad evidence of a care work-job satisfaction bonus, non-professional care workers experience a substantively larger bonus than their paraprofessional and professional counterparts. However, national-level economic inequality is also found to play a role in this relationship, with higher inequality amplifying the care work bonus at all levels of professionalization.