Differences in the job satisfaction of high-paid and low-paid workers across Europe


  • This article is an extension of K. Pouliakas's work for the Economic Research Department of the Bank of Greece under the EPICURUS project supported by the European Commission. Earlier versions were presented at the Scottish Economic Society Conference, held in Perth on 24 April 2006, at the London School of Economics and Political Science's Second Hellenic Observatory PhD Symposium on modern Greece, “Current Social Science Research on Greece”, held in London on 10 June 2005, and at the annual conference of the European Low-wage Employment Research Network (LoWER), held in Mannheim on 15–16 April 2005. The authors would like to thank Dr H. Gibson, Head of the Special Studies Division, Economic Research Department, Bank of Greece, and participants in these meetings for their helpful comments.

  • Responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles rests solely with their authors and publication does not constitute an endorsement by the ILO.


Data from six waves of the European Community Household Panel (1996–2001) in 11 countries suggest that low-paid employees are significantly less satisfied with their job than the high-paid in southern Europe, but not in the northern countries. Proxying job satisfaction for job quality, the authors show that while low-paid employment does not necessarily mean low-quality employment, workers in some countries suffer the double penalty of low pay and low job quality. Such dualism across European labour markets, they argue, reflects different country-level approaches to the trade-off between flexibility and security, calling for a policy focus on the latter to enhance job quality.