Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/177724
Authors: 
Dur, Robert A. J.
van Lent, Max
Year of Publication: 
2018
Series/Report no.: 
Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper TI 2018-034/VII
Abstract: 
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.
Subjects: 
work motivation
job satisfaction
job search
management quality
job protection legislation
sin industries
labor hoarding
division of labor
JEL: 
J2
J3
J4
J8
M5
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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