Working Paper

The Decline of Drudgery and the Paradox of Hard Work


Abstract: We develop a theory that focuses on the general equilibrium and long-run macroeconomic consequences of trends in job utility. Given secular increases in job utility, work hours per capita can remain approximately constant over time even if the income effect of higher wages on labor supply exceeds the substitution effect. In addition, secular improvements in job utility can be substantial relative to welfare gains from ordinary technological progress. These two implications are connected by an equation flowing from optimal hours choices: improvements in job utility that have a significant effect on labor supply tend to have large welfare effects.

Keywords: income effect; job utility; Labor supply; work hours; drudgery; substitution effect;

JEL Classification: J22; O40; E24;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)

Part of Series: International Finance Discussion Papers

Publication Date: 2014-06-06

Number: 1106

Pages: 42 pages