As the topic of job quality is garnering more attention in both the academic and policy making literature, calls for standardised measures of the concept are gaining increasing traction. However, prevailing measures based on dashboards of complex lists of indicators are difficult to interpret, especially across countries. More recently, the World Bank has published a working paper on “Global Job Quality” that measures multidimensional deprivations across 40 developing countries and is based on a methodology developed by Sehnbruch et al. (2020) and the Alkire/Foster method (2011). Initial studies suggest that the results from existing cross country, time series and dynamic studies are robust and very relevant to policy making. In particular, traditional ways of viewing the labour market in terms of formal (good jobs) versus informal (bad jobs) are outdated as modern hiring and employment practices as well as a shift towards the gig economy have eroded the stability and security of employment. As a result, this makes it difficult for developing countries to establish or sustain social insurance systems.
In advanced economies, employment practices that erode the conditions associated with traditional employment relationships are likely to have a similar impact on the sustainability of existing welfare states, as governments increasingly have to provide workers with additional income support as well as with other services that cover the cost of the multiple negative externalities associated with poor job quality (such as a higher likelihood of suffering from mental and physical health problems). A first step towards measuring these outcomes is therefore to establish a measure of cumulative deprivations in the labour market in the context of advanced economies.
This paper therefore presents the first multidimensional index of cumulative employment deprivations in Europe using data from the European Working Conditions Survey. Using the Alkire/Foster method, variables relevant to the employment relationship are grouped into three dimensions (income, job security and working conditions). Results confirm findings found across developing countries where job quality deprivations are not necessarily related to GDP per capita levels or employment rates. Instead, the regulatory environment of a particular country is the most important determinant of outcomes.
Kirsten Sehnbruch is a Global Professor of the British Academy and a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at the Universidad de Chile, and a Senior Lecturer at the University of California, at Berkeley. During 2019, Kirsten was awarded a British Academy Professorship to study the conceptualization and the measurement of the quality of employment in developing countries from the perspective of the capability approach. Her work informs social, labour and development policy more broadly as it allows for resources to be targeted at the most vulnerable workers in a labour market. She has collaborated with governments, international development institutions and NGOs in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Her work has been published by multiple journals such as World Development, The Cambridge Journal of Economics, Development and Change, Regional Studies and Social Indicators Review. Prior to becoming an academic, Kirsten worked as an equity analyst at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, London. She received her MA, MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge.
Mauricio Apablaza is director of research at the School of Government at the Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile, research associate of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at Oxford University and Visiting Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Mauricio is also the director of the programme Conocimiento e Investigación en Personas Mayores (CIPEM) and president of the Chilean Commission for Quality of Employment and former member of the Chilean commission of experts on informal labour. Previously, he worked as Research Officer and Outreach Coordinator at OPHI, at the University of Oxford. Mauricio holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Nottingham and a postdoc at the University of Oxford. His research areas and publications focus on institutions, multidimensionality, and poverty dynamics.