At least, that seems to be the opinion of Stephen Overell (associate director of The Work Foundation):
According to a new study, having a badly paid job can be worse for one's mental health than having no job at all.Screw their mental health! What about the mental health of the poor schlubs paying for them to stay idle?
... in general unemployed people have worse mental health than those in work. However, merely moving into work did not lead to an improvement, and the transition from unemployment to low-quality work worsened mental health. Instead, the job had to be of a certain level of "psychosocial quality" to be beneficial, meaning it had to be relatively secure, that the pay was perceived to be fair, that work demands were not excessive, and that people could exert some influence over when and how their work was done.Funny, I don’t remember fellow blogger Longrider demanding work that had a ‘certain level of psychosocial quality’ – he took work beneath his undoubted skills simply to get off the benefits list for a while.
Has Stephen never heard the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’?
Work provides time structures to the day, it obliges participation in shared activities, and it generates status and identity. Without it, people and places often go to pieces: apathy sets in, simple tasks take longer, there is less social contact and what little money there is goes on luxuries before necessities.Yes, precisely. So why are low-paid jobs somehow exempt from these beneficial effects?
Countries with "work-first" policies may not necessarily increase wellbeing. In dedicating themselves single-mindedly to the quantity of jobs in a society, policymakers ignore the critical social and psychological importance of the quality of jobs.It seems Stephen thinks the only possible benefit from these jobs accrues to the people doing them.
What about the benefit to everyone else of not having to fork out to pay for their benefits?
Such a message is, of course, particularly relevant in Britain – though unfortunately most of it will go unheard. Under the slogan of "making work pay", the coalition aims to incentivise the workless to take work, arguing that doing so will help the life chances of individuals and families. The blind spot is in imagining any job will do. The evidence suggests it won't.Your evidence, you mean? Hey, let’s give it a try. The evidence might, after all, be wrong, mightn’t it?
Faced with the challenge of job quality there is a tendency among politicians to think not much can be done, aside from attempting to encourage growth so that people can change jobs if they want to.You mean politicians are learning that they can’t micromanage everything?
Well, bring it on! That’s great news!
Admittedly, subtle issues of autonomy and stress do not lend themselves to quick regulatory fixes. Yet, as the Australian study points out, job quality has historically been an area where political intervention has brought far-reaching social advances – for example through minimum wages or laws on working time. The absurdity of our current situation lies in imagining that the nature of work is now a political and social irrelevance so long as jobs exist.The Australian study? Oh, now you tell us that this wasn’t even a UK study!
Go away and come back with some better arguments.