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The value of work in a changing labour market: a review and research agenda

AIAS-HSI Working Paper Series - Wieteke Conen & Paul de Beer

W.S. Conen & P. T. de Beer (2018). The value of work in a changing labour market: a review and research agenda, AIAS-HSI Working Paper 1.


Radical changes in the organisation of work over the past decades have inspired scholars from various disciplines to study cross-national variation and developments in how individuals value work. Although this rapid accumulation of research has the potential to significantly improve our understanding of the value of work, absent is the necessary step of consolidating and integrating this contemporary knowledge. In this paper, we aim to provide an integrative literature review of empirical research on the value of work in advanced economies since the 1990s by analysing whether and how the value of work differs between advanced economies and how valuations have evolved over time. This paper identifies patterns and gaps in the current literature and provides recommendations for a new research agenda. The findings show that - despite tremendous societal changes over the past decades – cross-national and historical-comparative studies provide a rather stable picture. This raises the question whether patterns on the value of work are indeed that constant or whether there is happening ‘more beneath the surface’? In terms of gaps in the current literature we find that developments in general valuations of work over time are scarce and there is a need for more in-depth analyses and small-scale country comparisons to obtain a more holistic picture of cross-national variation and developments over time.