Work–life balance – work intensification and job insecurity as job stressors

Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Labour and Industry, 2014, 24 (3), pp. 203 - 216
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What does it mean to have good work–life balance? Public debate has grown around the importance of work–life balance in contributing to quality of life, yet the debate remains quite narrowly conceived. In particular, ‘work’ is conceived as negative, especially long hours, and ‘life’ is centred around (typically women’s) caring responsibilities, especially childcare. However, a number of studies have challenged these dichotomies and suggested that work–life balance is influenced by other variables. Using Australia at Work survey data on over 4000 individuals, this study considers the factors that determine satisfaction with work–life balance. An ordered probit framework is used to take advantage of a data set that is rich in variables capturing objective and subjective measures of the labour contract and workplace characteristics. The results show that while long hours and caring responsibilities do indeed affect work–life balance outcomes, the presence of job insecurity and work intensification have measurably larger effects. The implications of the analysis are that wider interpretations of work–life balance are needed, which move beyond seeing work–life balance as an issue only of relevance to women with childcaring responsibilities and focus on a broader job quality agenda.
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