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Ingrid Esser

About me

Ingrid's research centers around the sociology of work, work values, job preferences, job quality, matching in the labour market, health and well-being.
Her reserach is predominantly internationally comparative, assessing the importance of both individual, work-place and societal factors on attitudes, behaviour and health outcomes. Research is empirically and quantitatively oriented.

Recent publications:

Rehnberg, J., Östergren, O., Esser, I. and O. Lundberg (2021). 'Interdependent pathways between socioeconomic position and health: a Swedish longitudinal register-based study', Social Science & Medicine, 280(2021).

Berglund, T. & Esser, I. (2019) "Matching Work Values with Job Qualities for Job Satisfaction. A Comparison of 24 Oecd Countries in 2015." Pp. 219-36 in Commitment to Work, edited by B. Furåker and K. Håkansson. New York: Routledge.

Esser, I., & Lindh, A. (2018) 'Job Preferences in Comparative Perspective 1989-2015: A Multi-Dimensional Evaluation of Individual and Contextual Influences.' International Journal of Sociology 48(2): 142–169. doi:DOI: 10.1080/00207659.2018.1446118

Esser, I. (2018). "Matching on Job Quality among Single and Couple Parents: How Institutions' Buffer through Times of Crisis across Europe", in R. Nieuwenhuis and L. C. Maldonado (eds.), The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families. University of Bristol Policy Press.

Esser, I. (2017). "Single and Couple Parents' Self-Rated Health across Europe: Socio-Economic Factors, Job Context and Social Protection", in F. Portier, (ed.), Fertility, Health and Lone Parenting: European Contexts. Oxford: Routledge.

Esser, Ingrid, and Joakim Palme. 2016. "Thematic Report on retirement regimes for workers in arduous or hazardous jobs, Sweden, 2016." European Social Policy Network (ESPN). Report for the European Commission, Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Unit: Modernisation of social protection systems. European Union, 2016. Available online.


Ingrid manages and teaches "Comparative Sociology" 7.5 credits (at the Institution of Sociolgy) and "Comparative labour market relations" 7.5 credits (at the AKPA-unit at the Swedish Institute for Social Reserach).

She is also involved as a guest lecturer at the Department of Public Health Sciences.

In addition she supervises students at the doctoral, BA (C-nivå) and MA (D-nivå) levels.



Welfare state life courses: Social inequalities in the co-evolution of
employment, health and critical life events (WELLIFE).
Nordic comparative project funded by NORDFORSK (2018-2022) [PI: Van der Wel, K., with Swedish partners Olle Lundberg, Olof Östergren and Johan Rehnberg]

Matching of Job Preferences for Sustainable Work Lives: The Swedish Welfare State in Comparative Perspective.
Comparative project funded by VR, project leader (2014-2018)
[with Ola Sjöberg (CHESS, SOFI) and Karen M Olsen (Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway)]

Global economic crisis, institutional change and inequality in comparative perspective: Changing Western welfare states and labour markets since the global financial crisis of 2008. Broad comparative project funded by VR, project participant (2013-2017)
[with Joakim Palme, Tommy Ferrarini, Karl-Oskar Lindgren, Kenneth Nelson, Sven Oskarsson, Ola Sjöberg, Kåre Vernby]


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Matching Work Values With Job Qualities for Job Satisfaction

    2019. Tomas Berglund, Ingrid Esser. Work Orientations, 219-236


    Well-being in the workplace is central to sustainable work lives, warranting attention to how (preferred) job qualities matter for job satisfaction. The chapter starts with a description of how work values, job qualities and their matching in eight central dimensions of job quality vary across 24 OECD countries. A novel multidimensional approach to matching between work values and job qualities is proposed, grounded in theoretical expectations of how individuals may prefer several job qualities, to varying degrees. Then the independent importance of matching to job qualities for job satisfaction is assessed—that is, in addition to the direct effects of a wide range of job qualities on job satisfaction. Survey data from the International Social Survey Programme’s Work Orientation Module 2015 are used. Results show how vast majorities strongly value multiple, both extrinsic and intrinsic, value dimensions, but how jobs providing multiple job qualities are generally scarcer, although countries differ greatly in this respect. Importantly, matching to job qualities plays a substantial role for job satisfaction—that is, over and above the direct effects of job quality, where matching to intrinsic job qualities emerges as somewhat more important.

    Read more about Matching Work Values With Job Qualities for Job Satisfaction
  • Job Preferences in Comparative Perspective 1989-2015

    2018. Ingrid Esser, Arvid Lindh. International Journal of Sociology 48 (2), 142-169


    This article aims to provide a comparative assessment of work values across countries as well as over time. Differences and similarities in job preferences for eight central value dimensions are examined across nineteen countries between 1989 and 2015, made possible by four survey rounds from the International Social Survey, Work Orientation modules. Analyses of how extrinsic and intrinsic work values are related to individual and contextual factors are guided by contrasting theoretical approaches—modernization theory and a welfare-state institutional perspective. Four main results are reported. First, secure and interesting jobs are the most preferred job qualities, universally important to nearly all employees throughout all survey years. Second, values are markedly stable over time, but vary more across countries. Third, large majorities simultaneously value work autonomy, high income, advancement opportunities, jobs perceived as useful to society or helpful to others, indicating how individuals generally, are both intrinsically and extrinsically oriented toward work, with some gendered differences. Fourth partly in support of welfare-state institutional expectations, work values differ across countries mostly in relation to economic equality rather than economic development, so that both extrinsic and intrinsic work values are more important in more unequal societies.

    Read more about Job Preferences in Comparative Perspective 1989-2015
  • Do public pensions matter for health and well-being among retired persons?

    2010. Ingrid Esser, Joakim Palme. International Journal of Social Welfare 19 (Supplement s1), s121-s130


    Mortality rates suggest that elderly people in the advanced welfare democracies have experienced dramatically improved health over the past decades. This study examined the importance of public pensions for self-reported health and wellbeing among retired persons in 13 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in 2002–2005. New public pension data make it possible to distinguish between two qualities of pension systems: ‘basic security’ for those who have no or a short work history, and ‘income security’ for those with a more extensive contribution record. For enhanced cross-national comparison, relative measures of ill-health and wellbeing were constructed to account for cultural bias in responses to survey questions and heterogeneity among countries in the general level of population health. Overall, better health is found in countries with more generous pensions, although the results are gendered; for women's health, high basic security of the pension system appears to be particularly important. Women's wellbeing also tends to be more dependent on the quality of basic security.

    Read more about Do public pensions matter for health and well-being among retired persons?
  • A Framework for Comparing Social Protection in Developing and Developed Countries: The Example of Child Benefits

    2009. Ingrid Esser (et al.). International Social Security Review 62 (1), 91-115


    The article outlines a conceptual and theoretical framework for improved comparative analysis of publicly provided social protection in developing countries, drawing on the research tradition of the study of longstanding welfare democracies. An important element of the proposed institutional approach is the establishment of comparable qualitative and quantitative indicators for social protection. The empirical example of child benefits indicates that differences between developed and developing countries should not be exaggerated, and that the prevalence of child benefits in sub-Saharan African and Latin American countries today resembles the inter-war period (1919-1938) situation in developed regions.

    Read more about A Framework for Comparing Social Protection in Developing and Developed Countries: The Example of Child Benefits
  • Modell i förändring

    2014. Tomas Berglund, Ingrid Esser.


    Denne rapporten skildrer den svenske velferdsstatens og det svenske arbeidsmarkedets utvikling fra 1990 og fram mot i dag. Perioden preges av store og avgjørende forandringer på en rekke områder. Lavere organisasjonsgrad og større sosiale forskjeller er to utviklingstrekk ved det svenske samfunnet.

    Rapportens ambisjon er å gi en bred beskrivelse av utviklingen basert på tidligere forskning.

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  • Perceived Job Quality

    2012. Ingrid Esser, Karen M. Olsen. European Sociological Review 28 (4), 443-454


    In this study, we examine the relationship between institutions of labour market and welfare states and two central aspects of job quality: autonomy and job security. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from varieties of capitalism and a power resource approach, we examine whether macro-level features can explain country differences in perceived autonomy and job security. In multi-level analyses, we combine institutional data with data from the European Social Survey (ESS), which contains information on 13,414 employees from 19 countries. We report three main findings: first, we find high autonomy in the Nordic countries and low autonomy and job security in transition countries; second, the institutional features-union density and skill specificity-are positively associated with autonomy; third, unemployment rate is the most important factor in explaining country differences in perceived job security. Our findings suggest that the power of workers and their skill specificity are important in explaining cross-country differences in autonomy. The study shows that a multi-level approach may help explain how institutions shape employment outcomes.

    Read more about Perceived Job Quality
  • Continued Work or Retirement?

    2005. Ingrid Esser.


    The combination of greying populations, decreasing fertility rates and a marked trend in falling retirement age is profoundly challenging the sharing of resources and supporting responsibilities between generations in the developed world. Previous studies on earlier exit-trends have focused mainly on supply-side incentives and generally conclude that people will exit given available retirement options. Substantial cross-national variations in exit-ages however remain unexplained. This suggests that also normative factors such as attitudes to work and retirement might be of importance. Through multi-level analyses, this study evaluates how welfare regime generosity, as well as production regime coordination explains cross-national patterns of retirement preferences across twelve Western European countries. Analysis firstly shows how both men and women on average prefer to retire at 58 years, meaning on average approximately 7 or 5.5 years before statutory retirement age in the case of men and women respectively. Contrary to what is expected from previous research on supply-side factors, preferences for relatively later retirement is found within more generous welfare regimes and also within more extensively coordinated production regimes. For women, however, institutional effects do not remain once substantial cross-national differences in women’s statutory retirement ages are taken into account.

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Show all publications by Ingrid Esser at Stockholm University