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The Economics of Workaholism: We Should Not Have Worked on This Paper

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    ()

    (University of Texas at Austin, Royal Holloway)

  • Slemrod, Joel

    ()

    (University of Michigan)

A large literature examines the addictive properties of such behaviors as smoking, drinking alcohol and eating. We argue that for some people addictive behavior may apply to a much more central aspect of economic life: working. Workaholism is subject to the same concerns about the individual as other addictions, is more likely to be a problem of higher-income individuals, and can, under conditions of jointness in the workplace or the household, generate negative spillovers onto individuals around the workaholic. Using the Retirement History Survey and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we find evidence that is consistent with the idea that high-income, highly educated people suffer from workaholism with regard to retiring, in that they are more likely to postpone earlier plans for retirement. The theory and evidence suggest that optimal policy involves a more progressive tax system than in the absence of workaholism.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp1680.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1680.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy: Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, 2008, 8 (1), Article 3
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1680
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  1. Steven Haider & Melvin Stephens Jr., 2004. "Is There a Retirement-Consumption Puzzle? Evidence Using Subjective Retirement Expectations," NBER Working Papers 10257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kahn, Shulamit & Lang, Kevin, 1991. "The Effect of Hours Constraints on Labor Supply Estimates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 605-11, November.
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  4. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  5. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," NBER Working Papers 3322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. George Loewenstein, Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Economics Working Papers E00-284, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2000. "Timing, Togetherness and Time Windfalls," IZA Discussion Papers 173, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Willpower and Personal Rules," CEPR Discussion Papers 3143, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jungmin Lee, 2003. "Stressed Out on Four Continents: Time Crunch or Yuppie Kvetch?," NBER Working Papers 10186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ravi Kanbur & Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 2004. "Non-Welfarist Optimal Taxation and Behavioral Public Economics," CESifo Working Paper Series 1291, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Lee, Jungmin, 2004. "Observable and Unobservable Household Sharing Rules: Evidence from Young Couples' Pocket Money," IZA Discussion Papers 1250, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Karen E. Dynan, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumer Preferences: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 391-406, June.
  15. Mitchell, Olivia S & Fields, Gary S, 1984. "The Economics of Retirement Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 84-105, January.
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