Hours and skill-underemployment in Europe

Research project: Hours and skill-underemployment in Europe

Nico Dragano

Deborah De Moortel

Partner institution:
Institute of Medical Sociology at the Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf

Hours and skill-underemployment in Europe

2017-2020 | Funding: FWO OUTGOING [PEGASUS]2 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship


This project aims to make an in-depth study of the links between underemployment and mental well-being. Underemployment is an emerging and underestimated problem in many European countries. Both skill-underemployment (jobs requiring a lower educational level than the worker’s education) and hours underemployment (part-time hours while preferring full-time work) are considered. Both kinds of underemployment constitute stressful economic and psychosocial experiences. Therefore, it is hypothesised that they are associated with poor mental well-being. I will investigate the relationship with mental well-being and explore the underlying pathways at play.

The research consists of two main sub-tasks. First, causal links at the individual level will be scrutinized using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Questions regarding the direction of causality, cognitive and behavioral adjustments and dose-response relationships will be investigated. In a second phase, I will investigate the mediating/moderating influence of country-level economic and institutional factors. I hypothesize that, among others, unemployment rates, labour market institutionalization and active and passive labour market policies will have an impact on the prevalence and mental well-being consequences of underemployment. For the second purpose the 2010 and 2015 editions of the European Working Conditions Survey will be used.