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What does European Social Survey data say about work-life balance satisfaction, working time and work attachment in V4 countries?

What does European Social Survey data say about work-life balance satisfaction, working time and work attachment in V4 countries?


Denisa Fedáková, Institute of Social Sciences, Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences of SAS,

ISSN: 1335-3608


The growing importance of everyday work-life balance (WLB) focuses attention on a fair time distribution between the work, life and family domains. Despite the global perception of the crucial role work-life balance plays in everyday routine there are still cross-country differences in WLB satisfaction. The aim of this study was to examine cross-country differences and similarities among a group of four neighbouring European countries; the Visegrad group (V4) countries. More specifically the study aimed to describe the level, changes within rounds of data collection and between-group comparisons of selected ESS variables: WLB satisfaction, working time, and work attachment. The correlation analysis was applied to explain and understand relations between selected variables. The Visegrad Group was established in 1991 in a castle in the Hungarian town of Visegrad and after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 it turned into the Visegrad Four – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic (Czechia) and Slovakia. Slovakia is the only V4 country that has adopted the euro (in 2009), but all V4 countries are members of the EU. The economies of the V4 countries are similar to each other; while some believe that the Visegrad Group countries are closer politically than economically (Gadomski, 2016) others, Dallago and Rosefielde (2016) pointed out that V4 countries are similar in their relatively low levels of earnings in comparison to the EU average. The European Social Survey Round 5 (ESS R5, 2010) and Round 6 (ESS R6, 2012) data from the V4 countries, Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, was used. The final sample was specified according to the following criteria: selected respondents were in employment, working hours were controlled for extreme cases and weekly working hours were restricted between 20 to 70.

Results of current study indicate that the level of WLB satisfaction is about average in all countries and stable or fairly increasing in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. In Czechia the level of WLB satisfaction was lower in round 5 when compared to the rest of the V4 countries, but increased significantly in round 6. The average weekly working time in all V4 countries was above the 40 (working) hours´ norm with the highest numbers in Czechia. Comparing ESS R5 and ESS R6 figures the amount of working hours decreased significantly in Czechia and Hungary whereas in Slovakia and in Poland there were no significant changes in the amount of reported weekly working hours. The correlation analysis revealed significant negative relationships between WLB satisfaction and both working hours and work attachment in all V4 countries. The strongest negative correlation between WLB satisfaction and working hours and WLB satisfaction and work attachment was measured in Hungary. The descriptive statistics indicated mean scores for the work attachment variable as follows: Czechia M=2,76; Hungary M=2,62; Poland M=2,79 and Slovakia M=2,92. All values were about the middle point of the response scale (value 3, meaning sometimes). The highest score of work attachment was reported in Slovakia. When comparing respondents having children at home or not, a higher level of work attachment was reported by respondents with a child at home in all V4 countries and the difference was significant for all countries except for Slovakia.

To sum up, the results show a similar pattern for Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Czechia, with a significant between-round of WLB satisfaction increase, was the exception. There were almost no differences in level of satisfaction with work-life balance between respondents living with and without children across time in V4 countries. In R5 a significantly higher level of satisfaction with WLB was measured in Poland and in R6 in Slovakia. In both countries a higher level of WLB satisfaction was reported by those living without children. The findings of the current study contrast with the findings based on the ESS data in the Czech Republic indicating that a lower level of WLB satisfaction was reported by respondents living alone and without children (Klímová Chaloupková, 2013).

Results on working time suggest that people in V4 countries work weekly more than 40 hours. There was a significant negative correlation between weekly working hours and WLB satisfaction confirmed in all V4 countries. On the positive side there is the finding that in between–round comparison there was evidence about slight decrease in weekly working hours. According to European Working Conditions Survey Report people working more than 48 hours a week report more problems in terms of work–life balance and health than those who do not. More specifically, they are less likely to report that they have a good work-life balance (EWCS, 2012). Additionally, the findings of the current study indicated V4 countries´ respondents encounter worries about work when not working. The level of work attachment was similar in all four countries but as measuring the work attachment was not part of the ESS questionnaire in R6 there are no between-round indicators of work attachment available so far. The comparative analysis revealed a difference between respondents with and without children at home when reporting work attachment. A higher level of work attachment was reported by people with childcare duties indicating that parents are often attached to work even staying with children and having family time. Reflecting this, Kinnunen et al. (2017) emphasize the lack of psychological detachment from work during off –job time. To conclude, more similarities than differences were found when analysing WLB satisfaction, working time and work attachment in the V4 countries. For a deeper understanding further analysis should be done in the future with the focus on time use patterns in the context of work and non-work activities with an emphasis on work and family values in the V4 countries.


Work-life balance satisfaction. Working time. Work attachment. Visegrad countries. European Social Survey.

Bibliografické informácie (sk)

FEDÁKOVÁ, Denisa. What ESS data says about work-life balance satisfaction, working time and work attachment in V4 countries? Človek a spoločnosť, 2017, roč. 20, č. 4, s. 70-79.

Bibliographic information

FEDÁKOVÁ, Denisa. What ESS data says about work-life balance satisfaction, working time and work attachment in V4 countries? Individual and Society, 2017, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 70-79.

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