Underemployment and well-being in the UK before and after the Great Recession

Jason Heyes, Mark Tomlinson, Adam Whitworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008 there has been widespread concern with changes in the level and composition of unemployment. The phenomenon of underemployment has, however, received markedly less attention, although it too increased in extent following the start of the crisis. This article considers the consequences of underemployment for the subjective well-being of UK employees. Drawing on data from the 2006 and 2012 Employment and Skills Surveys, the article assesses how the Great Recession affected relationships between different dimensions of underemployment and well-being. The findings demonstrate that the negative well-being consequences of workers’ dissatisfaction with opportunities to make use of their abilities became more substantial, as did the consequences of being ‘hours constrained’ and having an unsatisfactory workload. The article also shows that the economic crisis had a negative impact on the well-being of employees who work very long hours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-89
Number of pages19
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • economic crisis
  • Great Recession
  • job quality
  • labour market
  • underemployment
  • well-being


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