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The Shift Project

HCPDS faculty member Daniel Schneider, a sociologist and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, is co-director of The Shift Project, a research project that explores how precarious and unpredictable work schedules in the low-wage service sector affect the household economic security and well-being of workers and their families. Spearheaded in 2016 by Schneider and his colleague Kristen Harknett, The Project, which collect survey data using innovative methods—such as targeted paid ads on Facebook and Instagram—now provides one of the largest sources of data on work scheduling for hourly service workers on a national level. Analyzing the results of these surveys, which are matched to employers in the sectors of retail, food service, grocery, delivery and fulfillment, and hospitality, has yielded the following policy-relevant findings:

“The vast majority of service-sector workers experience instability in their weekly work schedules. Workers who experience more predictable scheduling report less stress and better overall health, compared to workers who experience less predictable and stable scheduling. In fact, our data reveal that while low wages are negatively associated with poor health outcomes, unstable and unpredictable schedules are a much more significant determinant.”