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“Work”? On utility in the market and in the unpaid sphere


  • Mann, Stefan


The argument put forward in this paper is that distinguishing between the social and the unpaid sphere has become much more critical as far as societal analysis is concerned than the increasingly blurred distinction between labor and leisure. It proposes a new household model in this respect to provide explanations for phenomena like the high degree of unhappiness experienced by the unemployed and the prevalence of workaholism. The model illustrates that ‘working’ can be as much a source of utility as ‘leisure activities’. The dependency of the budget situation on choices is outlined and the issue of the crowding out of activities in the unpaid sphere is formalized in the model. Policy implications such as decreased pressure on citizens to work and the introduction of a basic income are postulated.

Suggested Citation

  • Mann, Stefan, 2013. "“Work”? On utility in the market and in the unpaid sphere," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 86-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:45:y:2013:i:c:p:86-91 DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2013.05.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Besser, T. & Mann, S., 2015. "Which farm characteristics influence work satisfaction? An analysis of two agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 107-112.
    2. Mann, Stefan, 2015. "An activity choice approach towards pricing of 1:1 personal services – on the omnipresence of interpersonal utility comparisons," MPRA Paper 62516, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    D13; J22; J81; Z1; Labor economics; Socio-economics; Neoclassical economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


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