Now I guess many of us think we could be Managing Director of BHP-Billiton, but most of us accept that we might have to start at the bottom and work our way up.
But according to Stephen Long, ABC’s Economics Correspondent, talking about the government’s ‘tough’ welfare to work measures:
But the other side is there is an assumption in all the discussion around this from the Government and just about everybody that somehow this is a universally good thing, that any job is better than no job and we will be giving these people the dignity of work, the dignity of labour.
Now there is a whole body of medical research and other research that actually says that pushing people into low wage, insecure jobs that can often be quite oppressive and give people little control can actually undermine their health and well being.
Now I’m not absolutely sure what body of medical and other research Long is referring to, but here’s a tip – the main findings of the research are as follows:
- Unemployment has an unambiguously negative effect on health, particularly mental health;
- The unemployed have lower levels of life satisfaction than those with a job (check out the HILDA results, Stephen);
- A fair proportion (at least 50 per cent) who have a low paid job in period one have a better job in periods 2, 3, 4, etc. (again check out HILDA) – that is, low paid jobs are not necessarily ‘dead end’.
The research to which Long may be referring compares those in jobs with considerable control and autonomy with those in jobs without those characteristics and, not surprisingly, people feel better about the former. Having said this, the HILDA survey suggests that long hours – which are a correlate of more senior jobs – does not lead to higher life satisfaction overall. So the jobs may provide personal control but come at the cost of long hours.
The government is on the right track in emphasising the dignity of work.