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Economic and Labor Market Forces Matter for Worker Well-Being


 Address for correspondence: Louis Tay, Purdue University, Department of Psychological Sciences, 703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA. Email:


In light of recent interest in societal subjective well-being, policies that seek to improve the economy and labor markets need to address the question of whether economic factors matter for worker well-being, specifically job satisfaction. In a worldwide representative poll of 136 nations, economic factors are associated with job satisfaction beyond demographic and job factors. Hierarchical linear modeling showed that higher national GDP and job optimism was associated with job satisfaction, whereas higher unemployment was associated with job dissatisfaction. Mediational analyses revealed that economic variables (GDP and job optimism) were partially mediated by job satisfaction in predicting life satisfaction; full mediation was found for unemployment. In a second study, time series regression of monthly data from a nationally representative poll in the United States from 2008 to 2011 revealed that unemployment rate was significantly associated with job dissatisfaction over time. There was some evidence that prior unemployment rates predicted job satisfaction at a higher level than job satisfaction predicted unemployment rates, suggesting that economic factors lead to job (dis)satisfaction rather than the converse. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.