Alternative Work Arrangements and Job Satisfaction

Research paper by Cheryl Carleton, Mary Kelly

Indexed on: 03 Sep '19Published on: 03 Sep '19Published in: Atlantic Economic Journal


The pressures of traditional jobs on working families, along with an aging population facing financial need, have contributed to heightened interest in the percentage of workers participating in alternative work arrangements. These include working as an independent contractor or self-employed, and those employed by others on-call, through temp agency, or as contractors. Examining job satisfaction across work arrangements by occupation and gender is one way to investigate a potential increase in the supply of such workers. Higher job satisfaction may indicate that more workers will select into these work arrangements and away from traditional jobs in the future. If this is particularly true for women, it has important implications for firms that would like to retain more women. Moreover, changes in how individuals earn a living may impact the social safety nets of such workers and their families given the nature of how such benefits are provided in the U.S. economy. This study utilizes recent waves of the General Social Survey to explore job satisfaction for workers in disaggregated alternative work arrangements, while controlling for both occupation and gender. The study finds that female workers who are independent contractors and self-employed are more satisfied with their jobs than those in regular salaried jobs, even those in nonprofessional occupations. Job satisfaction for those who work in temp agencies, do on-call work or work for contractors is no different than for those in regular jobs, regardless of occupation and gender.