Young Women’s Life Experiences Improve With Full-Time Jobs

By Ben Ryan

Finding decent work can be a life-changing experience. Gallup research shows worldwide, men and women tend to rate their lives and many of their experiences better when they have full-time work. This has important implications for the world’s young people — more than 73 million of whom are looking for jobs — and particularly for young women, who are more likely than young men to be out of the workforce.

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“We know that investing today in the employment of young people means investing in the present and future of our societies. Sustainable development needs to be about the quantity and quality of jobs. In a world of work undergoing profound changes, our challenge is to continuously find new and innovative solutions as we look into the future of work,” Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General, remarked in early June at the World of Work Summit, which focused on how to shape the future of work for youth.

In addition to measuring life evaluations, Gallup measured positive and negative experiences in 150 countries from 2014 to 2015. Gallup asked people whether they experienced a lot of enjoyment, laughed or smiled a lot, felt well-rested, were treated with respect and whether they learned or did something interesting the day before, and compiled the “yes” results into a Positive Experience Index score.

Similarly, Gallup measured negative experiences by asking people whether they experienced a lot of stress, sadness, anger, physical pain and worry the previous day, and compiled these into a Negative Experience Index score. These index scores indicate how much a respondent is having either positive or negative experiences; thus higher Positive Experience Index scores are better, while lower Negative Experience Index scores are better.

Among those aged 18 to 29, women and men who are out of the workforce have the lowest Negative Experience Index scores. However, this group includes those who are enrolled in school, which may help explain these lower negative scores. As men and women get older, this “advantage” from being out of the workforce, compared with full-time employment, disappears, with the gap virtually gone by the late 20s.

Those with the next-lowest negative experience scores are those with full-time jobs. This group also shows no gender gap in negative experiences, unlike other employment categories. Women in this age group who work part-time jobs (either by choice or despite wanting full-time work) score four or more points higher than men who work part time on Gallup’s Negative Experience Index. In other words, women who work part time are less happy than women who are working full time.


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