People Hate Working  

A blog about business and economics.
July 11 2013 12:15 PM

Why Are Poor People More Upbeat About Working?

This new research methodm which reveals that people are often stressed out and miserable at work, doesn't exactly shock me. After all, there's a reason people get paid salaries to work. But I wish the coverage had dwelled longer on this point from the very last paragraph:

Respondents with very low incomes tended to have a much less negative reaction to work. That may be, Mr. Bryson said, because their options outside work “are not very nice. … In that sense, they may as well be working.”
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I suppose it's true that very poor people have less attractive leisure options than middle-class people. But at the same time, very low wages seem to me to be correlated with jobs that are unpleasant in other ways. In the United States, at least, the labor force participation rate is correlated with education—which I'd always taken to be a reflection of the superior labor market options available to people who qualify for higher-paid, higher-status jobs. One possibility that comes to find is that this is simply a spurious result generated by some kind of flawed research method. But if not, it deserves more investigation.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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