An interesting paper from 2008 by Krueger and Mueller, entitled The Lot of the Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective, compares the time use of the unemployed to the time use of the employed. It does this for the USA, Canada and several European countries. The paper can be accessed here
The paper’s findings and conclusions are as follows:
- The unemployed report lower levels of life satisfaction and other indicators of psychological well-being (page 2)
- Time spent searching for a job appears to coincide with particularly unpleasant emotional experiences (page 21). The unemployed express particularly high feelings of sadness during episodes involving job search. In addition, feeling stressed is high during job search and feeling happy is low (page 10)
- The unemployed, unsurprisingly, spend considerably more time searching for a new job than do the employed and those who are classified as out of the labour force (pages 2 and 13)
- The unemployed in the USA and Canada spend more than twice as much time searching for a new job than do the unemployed in Western Europe and eastern Europe, and eight times more than in the Nordic countries (page 3)
- The unemployed experience elevated levels of sadness during periods of watching television, an activity that consumes a great deal of their time (page 10)
- The parameters of a nation’s unemployment benefits system (ie its generosity) do not appear to affect the amount of time devoted to job search (page 21). This conclusion is tentative because the study is based on a comprehensive definition of job seeker – a definition that captures all job seekers irrespective of whether or not they claim out of work benefits.
- A nation’s wage dispersion, or inequality, is a strong predictor of the amount of time the unemployed devote to job search (page 22). A larger wage dispersion (more inequality) predicts more time spent on job search.
- The paper is based on small samples and so caution should be exercised in reaching hard and fast conclusions. Further research is needed.