Job satisfaction and Life satisfaction: An analysis of the influence of socio-demographic factors and industries in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands

Lara Katharina Fagin-Stief


This study analyses the reciprocal nature of the relationship between job and life satisfaction as first introduced by Judge and Watanabe (1993). It focuses on the significance of autonomy at work, income satisfaction and industry sectors as predictors of job satisfaction and subjective general health and industry sectors as predictors of life satisfaction. Results are compared between three geographically close countries, namely Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The significance of these predictors in the three countries is analysed through OLS regression using data from a survey conducted in 2012 provided by the European Social Survey (ESS). In this way, the following conclusions can be drawn: Firstly, the reciprocal relationship holds due to potential spill over between both job and life. Secondly, in all three countries, job satisfaction increases life satisfaction more than vice versa. Thirdly, more autonomy at work will lead to increased job satisfaction levels in all three countries with the effect being highest in the Netherlands. Further, only in Belgium will industry sectors influence both job and life satisfaction directly and indirectly. In contrast, in Germany and the Netherlands income dissatisfaction will lower job satisfaction directly but increase it indirectly. Lastly, a higher subjective general health will increase life satisfaction in these two countries while differences in predictors to Belgium were explained by varying working conditions. The study introduces the importance of comparing industries across countries when looking at job and life satisfaction. Future research might extend the study in this direction, but also attempt at validating these results over time and including ESS-data on several years. Additionally, further predictors as well as more countries or regions should be included to extend the insights delivered by this study. 


job satisfaction, life satisfaction, work life balance, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, European Social Survey, income satisfaction, autonomy at work, subjective general health, industry sectors

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