Testing Karasek’s learning- and strain hypothesis on young workers in their first job
H. DE WITTE
Both hypotheses of Karasek’s ‘Job Demand-Control’-model are tested: an imbalance between demands (workload) and control (autonomy) increases strains (job dissatisfaction; strain hypothesis), whereas a balance between both job characteristics increases learning and development in the job (here: learning new skills in the first job; learning hypothesis). Both hypotheses are tested in two ways: (a) the mere combination of both job characteristics is associated with the expected outcomes, and (b) a statistical interaction between both job characteristics occurs. A large scale dataset (n = 2.439) of young workers in their first job is used to test all hypotheses. The results confirm both the strain and the learning hypothesis. Evidence is found for a combined effect of both job characteristics, as well as for a statistical interaction between both variables. The lowest level of job satisfaction is found in the ‘high strain’ job, whereas the highest increase in skills is found in the ‘active’ job. All predictions of Karasek’s JDC-model are thus corroborated. The consequences of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.
JDC-model, Karasek, Learning hypothesis, Strain hypothesis, Young workers
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