Working hours, work identity and subjective wellbeing

Publication type

Conference Paper


Alita Nandi and Mark L. Bryan

Publication date


We investigate the interplay of work identity and hours of work in
determining subjective wellbeing, as measured by job satisfaction,
job-related anxiety and depression, and life satisfaction. We use data
from Wave 2 (that is, 2010-2011) of Understanding Society, a nationally
representative longitudinal household survey of UK residents which
includes direct measures of work identity and measures of subjective
wellbeing. We restrict the analysis to White majority, male and female
employees between the ages of 23 and 59 years. We find that for a given
level of hours, having a stronger work identity is associated with
higher wellbeing on most measures. Working long hours is associated with
lower wellbeing and working part-time is associated with higher
wellbeing, but for men hours only affect their job-related anxiety and
depression and not their reported satisfaction. The relationships
between hours and wellbeing are generally strengthened when controlling
for identity implying that individuals sort into jobs with work hours
that match their identities. Work identity partially ‘protects’ against
the adverse effects of long hours working for women, but irrespective of
their work identity both men and women working long hours suffer more
job-related anxiety and depression than those working standard full-time
hours. While the analysis is cross-sectional, the findings are robust
to the inclusion of controls for personality traits and a simple check
for whether individuals may report their identity so as to rationalise
their work behaviour.


Sociology Of Labour, Labour Market, Labour Economics, Well Being and Social Psychology



Is referenced by: Ormston, R. and Hope, S. (2016) Work and wellbeing: exploring data on inequalities. Dunfermline: Carnegie UK Trust.