The Paradox of Falling Job Satisfaction with Rising Job Stickiness in the German Nursing Workforce Between 1990 and 2013

Mohamad Alameddine, Jan Michael Bauer, Martin Richter, Alfonso Sousa-Poza*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Literature reports a direct relation between nurses' job satisfaction and their job retention (stickiness). The proper planning and management of the nursing labor market necessitates the understanding of job satisfaction and retention trends. The objectives of the study are to identify trends in, and the interrelation between, the job satisfaction and job stickiness of German nurses in the 1990-2013 period using a flexible specification for job satisfaction that includes different time periods and to also identify the main determinants of nurse job stickiness in Germany and test whether these determinants have changed over the last two decades. Methods: The development of job stickiness in Germany is depicted by a subset of data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1990-2013), with each survey respondent assigned a unique identifier used to calculate the year-to-year transition probability of remaining in the current position. The changing association between job satisfaction and job stickiness is measured using job satisfaction data and multivariate regressions assessing whether certain job stickiness determinants have changed over the study period. Results: Between 1990 and 2013, the job stickiness of German nurses increased from 83 to 91%, while their job satisfaction underwent a steady and gradual decline, dropping by 7.5%. We attribute this paradoxical result to the changing association between job satisfaction and job stickiness; that is, for a given level of job (dis)satisfaction, nurses show a higher stickiness rate in more recent years than in the past, which might be partially explained by the rise in part-time employment during this period. The main determinants of stickiness, whose importance has not changed in the past two decades, are wages, tenure, personal health, and household structure. Conclusions: The paradoxical relation between job satisfaction and job stickiness in the German nursing context could be explained by historical downsizing trends in hospitals, an East-West German nurse compensation gap, and an increase in the proportion of nurses employed on a part-time basis. A clearer analysis of each of these trends is thus essential for the development of evidence-based policies that enhance the job satisfaction and efficiency of the German nursing workforce.
Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalHuman Resources for Health
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2017


  • Nursing
  • Job satisfaction
  • Germany
  • Job stickiness

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