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September 08, 2009


Luis Enrique

I really like this idea of important cohort effects in attitudes.

Isn't it often remarked that young (middle class) people nowadays expect their jobs to be rewarding in themselves, and all idea of the dignity of honest (but dull) labour has evaporated? I have seen some left wing commentators express contempt for working class jobs (although there's probably nothing new about that). If true, I wonder what that would imply for labour supply decisions and unemployment.

[it's worth noting that when it comes to discussions about whether banking is "socially useful", it's possible to confuse the notion of "socially useful" that (I think) Chris is using here with another notion, used by economists. And that involves taking people's preferences as given (not worrying about whether things are socially useful in a deeper sense), and then to ask whether banking is welfare destroying (socially useless), that is to say, whether aspects of the finance industry are extracting rents from the economy but doing nothing productive in return. There are other ways of being socially useless, in this sense, then just rent seeking. This sense of being "socially useless" is distinct from, say, doing something like writing mobile phone ring tones, which although some people might regard it as socially useless, would be regarded as welfare generating in the sense that people apparently enjoy such things]


No disrespect intended, but you look as if you have spent more than 14m minutes on earth. Did you mean 'in employment', or in fact perhaps more accurately 'with a job'?


@ Matthew - sorry, I miscalculated. I meant almost 24 million. Correction made.
Blimey, I feel old.

Luis Enrique

"My only concern has been to find any job and to keep it."

Rather than "any job" don't you mean find the "best job you could" (a job that delivers the best combination of (possibly negative) job-satisfaction and remuneration you can find, given search costs?) You didn't spend your life stacking shelves in a supermarket, after all. (You're not going to tell me that finding a job in an investment bank was easier for you than finding a job in a supermarket, are you?)


@ Luis - I'm not sure I meant the best job I could. To a very large degree, I never much bothered looking for jobs whilst I was in work. Keeping the job I have has always been vastly more important to me than looking for a better one.


well I did the opposite, almost by accident. Stayed on at Uni did postgrad and doctorate in economic development in UK, looking at effects of recessions, now working in economic regeneration. So directly took experiences of recessions from formative years in North East of England to try and develop some interest and insight into what can be done about recovering from recessions and making vulnerable economies a bit more recession proof....

Bull Fax

Very interesting post on a topic I also thought about recently. The recession did indeed bring up the jobs issue. And I fully agree that the "useful" tag plays a huge role in it.

With ever growing capital base, technical innovation and outsourcing of the most unpleasant and labour intensive parts of production to the dev. world, there is an ever decreasing number of workplaces that can be considered vital or even needed for the basic social functioning.

In the modern world more and more people are employed in the "services" sector ( 76% Japan, 80% US, 70% EU).

This encompasses things like stylist haircuts, florists, opera singers or language researchers. From a purely economic point of view none of their work is especially "useful". However this is a solution to our job killing productivity - creating services jobs and convincing society that they are needed or useful.

In brief - I agree with you - labeling jobs "socially useful" or not is quite irrelevant. Currently we have plenty of people with no jobs so any job that is "socially sustainable" is good for them and hence good for society -> socially useful ;).

Luis Enrique

(a paper that's not about generational beliefs, but about a tangentially related topic of uncertainty and recessions, which you might like is "Really Uncertain Business Cycles" by Bloom, Floetotto and Jaimovich. Available on Nicolas Bloom's homepage.)


Interesting. As an 80s teenager, 90s graduate, my experience is that recessions are strangely liberating. If you're going to be paid peanuts whatever you do, then it may as well be for something you find rewarding in other ways: just what that means is then a matter of personal taste, but it's economic booms that pressurise people into possibly-unsuitable jobs just because that's where the money happens to be at the time.

George B

Imagine how I feel: I've just graduated out into a fresh new recession, without any experience of one before.

rolex datejust watches

And a lot of it reflects a switch from bank deposits to securities; foreigners “other investments” in the UK, http://www.watchgy.com/ mostly bank deposits, fell by £143.2bn in Q1. And of course there’s no guarantee such buying will continue.

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