The measurement of well-being. The case of nonstandard workers

Bizzotto, Giulia (2009). "The measurement of well-being. The case of nonstandard workers" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

The aim of this paper is to evaluate well-being. Well-being is a multidimensional concept and its evaluation can not simply be reduced to access to material and non-material resources, because individuals differ in their capability to convert them into well-being achievements (Sen, 1992). We share this argument with Sen (1985, 1992, 1997) and we find support to these ideas also in Roemer’s writings about equality of opportunity (Roemer, 1998) and in the requirements of the Nussbaum’s liberal individualism (1999). We choose to follow the approach of Sen (1985, 1992), because evaluating well-being in the space of capabilities allows us to take in active consideration not only the achievements but also the freedom to achieve. According our thought, this latter aspect is the most important in explaining individual heterogeneity. Our empirical study area is nonstandard workers. We define as nonstandard those workers that have a different employment contract to full time permanent workers (part- time, temporary, short term, job-on-call, flexible arrangements contracts and so on). Since the Seventies many new job contract forms have been introduced to the labour market as an answer to the demand for higher flexibility and lower labour costs. These new contractual forms imply different and, in some cases, reduced job and social guarantees for workers. Moreover they do not only represent a different way of working, but imply new forms of burdens for the worker, such as limited possibilities to plan the future and to formulate both short and long term projects with respect to professional, existential and familial aspects of life, few opportunities and low portability of training and professional growth. However, from a different perspective, these flexible forms of work may also present new opportunities, if the plurality of the employment contract could mean a better match between the employee’s needs and the employer’s requirements.
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