Documentos de Trabajo

Políticas de Salud y Envejecimiento

THE MULTIPLICATIVE EFFECT OF INDIVIDUAL -AND COUNTRY- LEVEL UNEMPLOYMENT ON LIFE SATISFACTION IN 97 NATIONS (1981-2009)

Autor: Esteban Calvo

Año: 2013

Número Páginas: 39


Although the negative association between unemployment and life satisfaction is welldocumented,
much theoretical and empirical controversy surrounds the question of how
unemployment actually shapes life satisfaction. Previous studies suggest that unemployment may
endanger subjective well-being through individual experiences, contextual conditions, or a
combination of both. Drawing data from the World Values Survey, European Values Survey, and
World Development Indicators databases for 400,917 individuals in 97 nations (1981-2009), we
use three-tiered hierarchical linear models to test four competing theory-based hypotheses—that
unemployment shapes life satisfaction through individual, contextual, additive, or multiplicative
effects. Our results support a multiplicative interaction between individual- and country-level
unemployment. Unemployed individuals are less satisfied than workers, students, retirees, and
homemakers, but this life satisfaction gap varies in complex ways depending on national
unemployment rates. We discuss these findings in light of previous theoretical models and
combine them with the life course perspective to argue for a model where individual
unemployment is understood in comparison with diverse labor force statuses that make up the
life course and within the broader context of national unemployment rates. We conclude with
suggestions for public policy to promote subjective well-being through individualized and
contextualized plans addressing the negative consequences of unemployment.

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