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Regular version of the site

The Joy of Work

Which Russians are made happier by their jobs


For Russians, job satisfaction plays a significant role in overall life satisfaction. This is especially true for those with higher education and of higher income levels, as well as those who are driven by professional and career achievements. One factor that does not have any effect, however, is gender. It is equally important for men and women that they love their work. These are the findings of a study conducted by the HSE Laboratory of Comparative Social Research (LCSR), which was presented at the XXI April International Academic Conference.

Russian Gender Specifics

It is traditionally believed that work is more important for men, because they are more ambitious and inclined to take on leadership roles. Women, meanwhile, are thought to be more focused on household chores and caring for loved ones. The results of the LCSR study, however, show that generally in Russia there are no significant gender differences in the relationship between job satisfaction and life.

The study was based on a representative survey conducted by the Institute for Comparative Social Research (CESSI) in 38 Russian regions in 2019. In total, more than 12,000 respondents were interviewed—300 in each region, and more than 500 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, respectively. The study focused on data collected from respondents who were employed, the number of which in a sample varied from 129 people in Dagestan and Chechnya to 302 people in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The fact that work plays a similar role in overall life satisfaction for men and women can be explained by factors that are specific to Russia, says Natalia Soboleva, the study author. ‘Women are no less interested in working and building a career than men are. In addition, in Russian households, it is quite often women who are the main breadwinners, and in this case, work plays no less of an important role for them than for men.’

At the same time, in some regions, such as the Volgograd, Vladimir, Omsk, and Tambov Regions, this relationship is stronger for men. In other regions, however, the relationship is stronger for women: this was the case in the Tomsk Region, Altai Krai, and the Republic of Udmurtia. Generally, at the regional level (i.e., outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg), the relationship between work and life satisfaction is still higher among men.

Social Status and Relationship Status

The study also showed that factors such as age and whether respondents had children do not have any effect on the studied relationship. However, one’s relationship status does. For Russians in relationships, the role of one’s job satisfaction in one’s overall life satisfaction is less. ‘This is quite expected, since the family sphere contributes to subjective well-being,’ the study says.

The relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction is largely dependent on motivation, values, ​​and one’s social status, the study shows.

Job satisfaction is more closely linked to life satisfaction among those for whom it is important to achieve something at work and advance in their careers than it is among those who do not set these kinds of goals for themselves.

In addition, the relationship between job and life satisfaction is stronger among people who are college-educated or hold advanced degrees. ‘This can be explained by the fact that higher education is a contribution to career growth and one’s position in the labor market,’ the author of the study notes.

Income is another factor that affects the relationship between job satisfaction and life. It is stronger if a person lives in a higher-income household. On the one hand, higher-earning people invest more into their work. On the other hand, those for whom their job is not their main source of income can work primarily for the sake of personal goals or simply because they like it, the study says.

Regional Differences

In general, in all the studied regions, except the Vladimir region, there is a positive relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction. It is strongest in the Novosibirsk, Volgograd, Moscow, Kemerovo, Tver, and Leningrad regions, as well as Bashkortostan and the Stavropol Krai.

Percentage of people satisfied or rather satisfied with life and work in different regions of Russia (%)

Whether Self-Isolation Can Affect Job Satisfaction

For objective reasons, self-isolation conditions negatively affect life satisfaction, which in turn can affect various spheres of activity, the researcher says. Moreover, many Russians have either lost their jobs or are on forced leave and cannot continue to engage in their professional activities.

As for forced remote work, it has its positive and negative sides. ‘On the one hand, employees may feel a lack of communication with colleagues and a lack of professional environment. In addition, for many, maintaining a balance between work and family presents a challenge. On the other hand, some of those working from home can see the benefits of it, such as being able to more freely plan their time. Also, those who are still employed can appreciate having a job more amid the growing unemployment among their friends and neighbors,’ the researcher notes.



Study author:
Natalia Soboleva, Research Fellow, Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, HSE
Author: Marina Selina, April 23, 2020