Unhappiness Is Unpredictability

16 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017 Last revised: 13 Aug 2018

See all articles by Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Lonnie Golden

Pennsylvania State University - Abington College; Economic Policy Institute; Project for Middle Class Renewal

Date Written: August 12, 2017


This is a follow-up on “Happiness is Flextime” (Okulicz-Kozaryn and Golden 2017), but with focus on the case of unpredictability, the polar opposite of flextime. We study how schedule unpredictability is associated with a worker’s subjective wellbeing (SWB). We use the 2016 US General Social Survey containing Quality of Work life and Work Orientations modules. We include only respondents who are either full-time or part-time employees on payrolls. We find that in general the more the instability and unpredictability of work schedules, the lower is their SWB. Results in general have large size effects, at least as much as the effect of income. Although results are specific for the US, our findings provide support for both public and organizational policies that would promote increased predictability and advance notice for the timing of daily work shifts, particularly because the US may be an outlier in the developed world regarding the institutional barriers to last minute work scheduling and its underlying causes.

Keywords: Happiness; Unhappiness; Flexible Work Scheduling; Flextime; GSS; Unpredictable Work; Subjective Well-Being

JEL Classification: I31; J22

Suggested Citation

Okulicz-Kozaryn, Adam and Golden, Lonnie, Unhappiness Is Unpredictability (August 12, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044540 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3044540

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn (Contact Author)

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden ( email )

Camden, NJ 08102
United States

Lonnie Golden

Pennsylvania State University - Abington College ( email )

1600 Woodland Rd.
Abington, PA 19001
United States
215-881-7596 (Phone)
215-881-7333 (Fax)

Economic Policy Institute ( email )

1660 L Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Project for Middle Class Renewal ( email )

1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

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