Paper by Maria Cotofan and Robert Dur in The Review of Economics and Statistics
The paper “Macroeconomic Conditions When Young Shape Job Preferences for Life" by alumna Maria Cotofan (London School of Economics, United Kingdom) and research fellow Robert Dur (Erasmus University Rotterdam), and co-authors Lea Cassar (University of Regensburg, Germany) and Stephan Meier (Columbia University, Untied States), has been published online in The Review of Economics and Statistics, and was recently covered in The Guardian.
The study shows that workers who entered the labor market during hard economic circumstances give higher priority to income and less priority to job meaning. This effect does not only show up while young, but persists into old age. Conversely, workers who entered the labor market during economic booms give higher priority to job meaning and less priority to income for the rest of their lives. The paper also documents a number of interesting facts about how job preferences differ between workers of different ages and cohorts. Younger workers tend to find income more important. With age, workers start caring more about job meaning and less about income. This pattern is visible not just for a single cohort, but consistently for many generations.
Preferences for monetary and non-monetary job attributes are important for understanding workers’ motivation and the organization of work. Little is known, however, about how those job preferences are formed. We study how macroeconomic conditions when young shape workers’ job preferences for life. Using variation in income-per-capita across US regions and over time since the 1920s, we find that job preferences vary in systematic ways with experienced macroeconomic conditions during young adulthood. Recessions create cohorts of workers who give higher priority to income, whereas booms make cohorts care more about job meaning, for the rest of their lives.
Maria Cotofan, Lea Cassar, Robert Dur, and Stephan Meier, “Macroeconomic Conditions When Young Shape Job Preferences for Life", The Review of Economics and Statistics (May 6, 2021), doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_01057.