Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

How Much Do We Really Know about Moonlighters?

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

How Much Do We Really Know about Moonlighters?

Article excerpt

This article reviewed the literature on moonlighters to compare the rate of moonlighters reported in government publications with empirical studies done by researchers, and to examine the differences between moonlighters and nonmoonlighters observed in empirical studies on several dependent variables. The average rate of moonlighting in empirical studies was found to be much higher than the rate reported in government publications, both in the U.S.A and Canada. Only a few differences were found between moonlighters and nonmoonlighters with regard to personal, social, and organizationally-valued outcomes. Implications of the findings are discussed for future research as well as for management practice.

"Moonlighters" is a term which is normally used to described people who hold a second, paid job in addition to their full-time primary job. Systematic research on moonlighters is very limited. To some, it may not be a worthwhile area of research because of the limited number of people involved in it. To others it may be difficult, if not impossible, to collect systematic information on moonlighters because of the expense involved in obtaining a sample large enough to provide a sufficient number of moonlighters. The others, and consistent with traditional belief, moonlighters generally are socially withdrawn and economically deprived and there is no reason why this perspective on moonlighters should not be taken as valid and final.

Whatever information is available on moonlighters in the literature falls into two categories. The first category includes a number of studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor over the past twenty years and reported occasionally in the Monthly Labor Review. The main objectives of these government studies were to understand the characteristics and motivation of moonlighters. The second group of studies was conducted by researchers in the social and behavioral sciences, management, and in the health sciences. The objectives of these studies were not only to understand the motivation behind moonlighting but also to highlight the differences between moonlighters and nonmoonlighters on a number of personal, social, and organizational outcomes.

The objective of the present article are twofold. First, an attempt is being made to compare systematically the rate of moonlighting reported in official publications with that reported in empirical studies of moonlighters. The second objective is to provide a broad summary of the findings concerning the differences between moonlighters and nonmoonlighters on a number of important with variables. To the best of our knowledge, no exist ing article on moonlighters has attempted to achieve the above objectives.

Rate of Moonlighting

Government studies both in Canada and the United States consistently report the rate of moonlighting at about 5% of the labour force. There has been no substantial overall increase in the moonlighting rate in the U.S. for the last fifteen years. It was 5.2% in 1970 and 5.4% in 1985. While the rate of moonlighting among men has been decreasing (from 7% in 1970 to 5.9% in 1985), the rate among women has been increasing steadily (2.2% in 1970 to 4.7% in 1985). Similarly, while the rate of moonlighting among the white population has been increasing steadily (5.3% in 1970 to 5.7% in 1985), the rate among the black population has been steadily decreasing (4.4% in the 1970 to 3.2% in 1985). The overall rate of moonlighting was highest among employees between the ages of 35-44 years (6.2%), and that was also valid for both men (7.1%) and women (5.2%). The reasons for moonlighting among the general labour force, in terms of their importance, include: meeting regular expenses (32%); to gain experience or build up a business (17%); saving for the future (13%); paying off debts (9%); and other miscellaneous reason (29%). Some variations in different groups were noticeable. Women where slightly more likely than men to indicate the desire to gain experience in a different field of work. …

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