Ageing towards meaningful work?: Age, labour market change and attitudes to work in the Swedish work force, 1979–2003
2014 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Social Research, ISSN 1892-2783, Vol. 5, no 1, 161-189 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
A central finding in earlier research is that attitudes to work generally are more positive among older workers than among younger workers. This result has been interpreted in two different ways, by the cultural and the structural hypotheses. The cultural hypothesis sees age differences as outcomes of generational differences. We would expect that different cohorts should hold different work attitudes and that the work values of an age group at an earlier point in time should be different from the work values of the same age group at a later point in time. The structural hypothesis sees age differences as expressions of labour market inequality between older and younger workers. This point of view leads us to expect that age differences in work attitudes will follow changes in the job structure and in working conditions.
Drawing on data from the Swedish survey of living conditions (ULF), attitude change within the Swedish work force during the period 1979–2003 was examined. Three sub-periods, 1986/1987, 1994 through 1996 and 2001 through 2003 were compared to 1979, the year of reference. The main results showed that a consistently lower share of the work force held extrinsic work values in the subsequent periods and this applied to all age groups. The results did not support the assumption that broader cultural differences between generations are central explanations of differences in work values. Older workers held extrinsic work values to a lesser degree than younger workers regardless of period. Most strikingly the gap between the youngest group on the labour market (aged 16
–29) and the older ones widened during the period. Furthermore, class differences in the distribution of the extrinsic attitude were intact throughout the study period; manual employees were consistently more likely to hold an extrinsic attitude than were service class employees. This implies that differences in the probability of extrinsic work attitudes have been identifiable regardless of period, but that their prevalence has decreased since jobs involving features related to extrinsic work values have decreased since 1979.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 5, no 1, 161-189 p.
age, work attitudes, labour market change
Research subject Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-80803OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-80803DiVA: diva2:651596
ProjectsPanel survey of ageing and the elderly
FunderForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Originally included in thesis in manuscript form.2013-09-262013-09-262014-12-17Bibliographically approved