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Bonus or burden? Care work, inequality, and job satisfaction in eighteen European countries
journal contributionposted on 16.10.2019 by Naomi Lightman, Anthony Kevins
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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.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant (File no: 430-2018-00062)
European Commission's Horizon 2020 Programme via a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (Grant no. 750556)
- Social Sciences
- Politics and International Studies