Working Paper 2016-09: Daniel Schneider & Kristen Harknett

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Daniel Schneider, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Kristen Harknett, Associate Professor of Sociology and Research Associate of the Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania


The American labor market is increasingly unequal, characterized by extraordinary returns to work at the top of the market but rising precarity and instability at the bottom of the market. In addition to low wages, short tenure, few benefits, and nonĀ­standard hours, many jobs in the retail and food service industries are characterized by a great deal of instability and unpredictability in work schedules. Such workplace practices may have detrimental effects on workers. However, the lack of existing suitable data has precluded empirical investigation of how such scheduling practices affect the health and wellbeing of workers and their families. We describe an innovative approach to survey data collection from targeted samples of serviceĀ­ sector workers that allows us to collect previously unavailable data on scheduling practices and on health and wellbeing. We then use these data to show that exposure to unstable and unpredictable schedules is negatively associated with household financial security, worker health, and parenting practices.