Our Research

Our work on the Quality of Employment (QoE) proposes a measure of multidimensional deprivation in the labour market. The QoE index expands our knowledge of employment by measuring job quality at the level of individual workers. It summarises three dimensions of employment (income, job stability and working conditions) to identify which workers experience the most precarious employment situations. The index allows policy makers to compare results across countries, within countries, and across different groups in the population or geographical spaces. Active labour market or social policies can then be focused on those most in need.

Recent decades have seen an increasing amount of academic and policy attention focused on the quality of employment (QoE). As the dual processes of globalisation and liberalisation have generated continuous changes in labour markets, employment conditions such as wages, job stability and career prospects have changed. Public policy analysts therefore recognise that for many people, being employed does not guarantee a basic standard of living or well-being.

The QoE has thus become an important subject of study in the social sciences, although the literature on the subject is still very diverse and spread across different academic disciplines and international institutions. 

Promoting “Decent Work For All” (SDG 8) without coherent theoretical conceptualisation, data and empirical measurement of what this means is therefore problematic, especially in middle income developing countries where employment must be a policy priority as soon as the most basic needs (e.g. nutrition, shelter and basic education) have been met.

Crucially, the quality of employment (QoE) is not only of instrumental importance for improving income levels, inequalities and the coverage of social security systems. It is also intrinsically important to generating individual capabilities and social justice.

We therefore propose a methodology for measuring the quality of employment from a multidimensional and public policy perspective using household and labour force survey data. The purpose is to demonstrate that the QoE can be measured by means of a single summary index that can inform policy makers so they can identify the most vulnerable members of their labour force. This index complements traditional variables such as participation or unemployment rates, which are not always good indicators of labour market performance in developing countries with large informal sectors.

The following list of our publications are related to the conceptual, methodological and empirical research that informs our work.

Our Research

Our work on the Quality of Employment (QoE) proposes a measure of multidimensional deprivation in the labour market. The QoE index expands our knowledge of employment by measuring job quality at the level of individual workers. It summarises three dimensions of employment (income, job stability and working conditions) to identify which workers experience the most precarious employment situations. The index allows policy makers to compare results across countries, within countries, and across different groups in the population or geographical spaces. Active labour market or social policies can then be focused on those most in need.

Recent decades have seen an increasing amount of academic and policy attention focused on the quality of employment (QoE). As the dual processes of globalisation and liberalisation have generated continuous changes in labour markets, employment conditions such as wages, job stability and career prospects have changed. Public policy analysts therefore recognise that for many people, being employed does not guarantee a basic standard of living or well-being.

The QoE has thus become an important subject of study in the social sciences, although the literature on the subject is still very diverse and spread across different academic disciplines and international institutions. 

Promoting “Decent Work For All” (SDG 8) without coherent theoretical conceptualisation, data and empirical measurement of what this means is therefore problematic, especially in middle income developing countries where employment must be a policy priority as soon as the most basic needs (e.g. nutrition, shelter and basic education) have been met.

Crucially, the quality of employment (QoE) is not only of instrumental importance for improving income levels, inequalities and the coverage of social security systems. It is also intrinsically important to generating individual capabilities and social justice.

We therefore propose a methodology for measuring the quality of employment from a multidimensional and public policy perspective using household and labour force survey data. The purpose is to demonstrate that the QoE can be measured by means of a single summary index that can inform policy makers so they can identify the most vulnerable members of their labour force. This index complements traditional variables such as participation or unemployment rates, which are not always good indicators of labour market performance in developing countries with large informal sectors.

The following list of our publications are related to the conceptual, methodological and empirical research that informs our work.

Academic Publications

Peer reviewed journal articles

2020 “The Quality of Employment (QoE) in Nine Latin American Countries: a Multidimensional Perspective” (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Mauricio Apablaza, Pablo Gonzalez, Rocio Mendez and Veronica Arriagada) World Development, Vol. 127, 104738. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.104738 

2019 “Private Pension Systems Built on Precarious Foundations: A Cohort Study of Labor-Force Trajectories in Chile”Research on Aging, Vol. 41, 10: 961-987 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Ignacio Madero-Cabib, Fabio Bertranou, Andres Biehl, and Esteban Calvo). https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027519874687

2019 “Job Quality in the European Employment Strategy: One Step forward, two Steps back?” The European Review of Labour and Research, Vol. 25(2): 165-180 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Agnieszka Piasna, Brendan Burchell, and Nurjk Agloni). https://doi.org/10.1177/1024258919832213

2019 “The Political Economy of Unemployment Insurance based on Individual Savings Accounts: Lessons from Chile”, Development and Change, Vol. 50(4): 948–975 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Rafael Carranza and Joaquín Prieto). https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12457

2017 Special Issue Editor and Introduction on the 2010 Chilean Earthquake “The Impact of the Chilean Earthquake of 2010: Challenging the Capabilities of the Neoliberal State”, Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 44(4): 4-9 (Kirsten Sehnbruch). https://doi.org/10.1177/0094582X17705859

2017 “The Social Policy Responses to the Chilean Earthquake and Tsunami of 2010”, Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 44(4): 24-40 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Nurjk Agloni, Walter Imilan and Claudia Sanhueza). https://doi.org/10.1177/0094582X16648955

 2015 Editor of a Special Issue and Introduction on the Quality of Employment, “The Quality of Employment in the Development Literature”, The International Labour Review, Vol. 154(2): 167-170 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with José Antonio Ocampo).  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1564-913X.2015.00237.x

2015 “More but not better Jobs in Chile? The Fundamental Importance of Open-ended Contracts”, The International Labour Review, Vol. 154(2): 227–252 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Jaime Ruiz-Tagle). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1564-913X.2015.00240.x

 2015 “The quality of employment in Latin America: Theory and evidence”, The International Labour Review, Vol. 154(2): 171–194 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Joseph Ramos and Jürgen Weller). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1564-913X.2015.00238.x

2015 “Human Development and Decent Work: Why some Concepts Succeed and Others Fail to Make an Impact”, Development and Change, Vol. 46 (2): 197-224 (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Brendan Burchell, Agnieszka Piasna, and Nurjk Agloni). https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12149

2014 “The Quality of Employment and Decent Work: Definitions, Methodologies, and Ongoing Debates”, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 38 (2): 459-477. (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Brendan Burchell, Agnieszka Piasna, and Nurjk Agloni). https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bet067

2012 “Do the Poor Count? A Review”, Book Review, Social Forces, Vol. 93(2), Page e44.(Kirsten Sehnbruch). https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/sos107

2010 “El impacto del sismo 2010 sobre el mercado laboral de la Región del Biobío”, Sociedad Hoy, No. 19: 71-96. (Kirsten Sehnbruch with Jorge Dresdner). http://efdinitiative.org/publications/el-impacto-del-sismo-2010-sobre-el-mercado-laboral-de-la-region-del-bio-bio

2006 “Unemployment Insurance or Individual Savings Accounts: Can Chile’s New Scheme Serve as a Model for Other Developing Countries?” (Kirsten Sehnbruch) International Social Security Review, Vol. 59 (1): 27-48. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-246X.2006.00232.x