Job Characteristics

Job Characteristics


Young Women Job Characteristics

Throughout the survey years, several details have been collected on characteristics of the jobs the Young Women held, including work hours and schedule, traveling to work, number of people employed at company, activity requirements of job, supervising responsibilities, dual jobs, and the Job Characteristics Index.

Work Hours and Schedule

In 1980 and in the 1995-2003 survey years, questions were asked about the number of hours worked and the type of work schedule the respondents had, such as the type of shift (regular day, night shift, etc.). In the 1972, 1973, 1978, 1983, and 1988 survey years, respondents voiced their preference on whether they would like more hours and more pay, fewer hours and less pay, or the same hours at the same pay. Respondents were also asked in most survey years about being offered flexible work schedules (see Fringe Benefits). To access these variables, see the WORK SCHEDULE, LABOR FORCE STATUS, and HOURS WORKED Areas of Interest.

Traveling to Work

Several questions have been asked about a respondent's commute.  In 1968, respondents were asked the length of time and number of miles to travel to work, the method of traveling, and the cost of parking and tolls.  A similar set of questions was asked in 1973, 1978, and 1995.  A single question about length of time for travel to work was asked in 1991 and 1993. To access these variables, see the TRAVEL TO/FROM WORK Area of Interest.

Number of People Employed At Company

Questions about the number of people employed in a respondent's company (both the immediate plant/office and the entire company) were asked in select survey years between 1978 through 1993. To access these variables, see the NUMBER EMPLOYEES Area of Interest.

Activity Requirements of Job

In 1991, respondents answered a question series about what activities they needed to be able to perform for their current job.  These activities included walking around, using stairs/inclines, standing for long periods, stooping/kneeling/crouching, lifting/carrying weights up to 10 lbs., lifing/carrying weight over 10 lbs., reaching for supplies/materials, using hands and fingers to manipulate equipment, reading, hearing, and dealing with people. In 1968, they were asked if their current job required more or less skill and more or less responsibility than the job they held the previous year. To access these variables, see the HEALTH LIMITS TO WORK Area of Interest.

Supervising Responsibilities

From 1983 to 1993, respondents who worked outside the home were asked for their main job if they supervised the work of others. If so, the respondent indicated how many people she supervised, if she had any say over the supervisees' pay or promotion, and if her boss had a supervisor.

In the 1995 through 1999 surveys, there was a more extensive series of questions about supervisory positions. The respondent indicated if she held a supervisory position, the number she supervised directly, the gender count of those she supervised, how much responsibility she had for deciding pay/promotions and for the specific tasks the people performed, and if any of her subordinates supervised other employees. She was also asked if someone supervised her work, if her supervisor was a man or woman, how closely her work was supervised, the number of other people her boss supervised and the gender breakdown of those subordinates, if her boss had a supervisor, and the gender of that supervisor. The respondent also answered questions about whether she made decisions about budgets, hiring or firing.

In 2001 and 2003, respondents were only asked if they supervised the work of others.

To access these variables, see the SUPERVISION Area of Interest.

Dual Jobs

In most of the survey years between 1970 and 1993, respondents indicated whether they worked dual jobs and, if so, the number of weeks they had been a dual job holder and the number of dual jobs. Dual job information was also gathered for the respondent's spouse in 1993. To access these variables, see the EMPLOYERS Area of Interest.

Job Characteristics Index (JCI)

A special series in the 1980 Young Women dataset contained several questions pertaining to job characteristics. This special series of questions was also administered to the Young Men in 1978 and to the NLSY79 in 1980, but not to the Mature Women cohort. This series asked about characteristics of the respondents' current job, e.g., the amount of variety and autonomy, the opportunity to deal with people and develop friendships, the opportunity to complete tasks, the amount of significance they attributed to their job, and the amount of performance feedback received. Sims, Szilagyi, and Keller (1976) developed items for this scale, called the Job Characteristics Index (JCI).

The JCI, an extension of the work first begun by Turner and Lawrence in 1965, was preceded by an instrument developed by Hackman and Oldham (1975) known as the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS). Dimensions of the JDS are also incorporated into the JCI, although in a simpler format. Comparisons of the JCI and JDS by Dunham et al. (1977) have shown that both scales tend to collapse to a one-dimensional scale measuring job complexity. Therefore, the JCI was shortened by selecting one scale item that loaded strongly on each of the dimensions of job complexity shown to be important in earlier research. In their 1976 article, Sims et al. reported the necessary factor analysis scores used to obtain the abbreviated scale. Question and reference numbers for the seven items that comprise the shortened JCI scale are listed in Table YW1.

Table YW1. Variables Needed to Construct the Job Characteristics Index: 1980

Dimension Employed Self-Employed
Reference # Question # Reference # Question #
Variety R07185.00 10a R07213. 14a
Social Interaction R07186.00 10b R07214. 14b
Autonomy R07187.00 10c R07215. 14c
Feedback R07188.00 10d -- --
Friendship R07189.00 10e R07216. 14d
Task Significance R07190.00 10f R07217. 14e
Task Completion R07191.00 10g R07218. 14f

Survey Instruments: Users can find the JCI questions within the "Current Labor Force Status or CPS" section in the 1980 questionnaire. Other job characteristic questions can be found in the "Work Experience and Attitudes," "Employer Supplement," and "Health" sections of the questionnaires.  


Dunham, Randall B.; Aldag, Ramon; and Brief, Arthur P. "Dimensionality of Task Design as Measured by the Job Diagnostic Survey." Academy of Management Journal 20, 2 (June 1977): 209-23.

Hackman, J.R. and Oldham, J.R. "Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey." Journal of Applied Psychology 60 (1975): 159-70.

Pierce, Jon L. and Dunham, Randall B. "The Measurement of Perceived Job Characteristics: The Diagnostic Survey vs. the Job Characteristics Inventory." Academy of Management Journal 21,1 (March 1978): 123-28.

Sims, Henry R.; Szilagyi, Andrew; and Keller, Robert. "The Measurement of Job Characteristics." Academy of Management Journal 26,2 (June 1976): 195-212.

Turner, A.N. and Lawrence, P.R. Industrial Jobs and the Workers: An Investigation of Responses to Task Attributes. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1965.