Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | Seminar

FGGA Research Seminar: Socially Useless Jobs

22 May 2018
FGGA Research Seminars
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP Den Haag

It has been claimed that many workers in modern economies think that their job is socially useless, i.e. that it makes no or a negative contribution to society. However, the evidence so far is mainly anecdotal. We use a representative dataset comprising 100,000 workers from 47 countries at four points in time. We find that approximately 8% of workers perceive their job as socially useless, while another 17% are doubtful about the usefulness of their job. There are sizeable differences between countries, sectors, occupations, and age groups, but no trend over time. A vast majority of workers cares about holding a socially useful job and we find that they suffer when they consider their job useless. We also explore possible causes of socially useless jobs, including bad management, strict job protection legislation, harmful activities at work, labor hoarding, and division of labor.

Max van Lent is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Leiden University. He obtained his MSc in Economics degree from Erasmus University Rotterdam, and defended his PhD thesis in October 2017 at the same university. His research interests include behavioral, and experimental economics.

 Registration is not neccessary, and after the seminar, refreshments will be served.