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

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    () (Barnard College)

  • Slemrod, Joel

    () (University of Michigan)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Slemrod, Joel, 2005. "The Economics of Workaholism: We Should Not Have Worked on This Paper," IZA Discussion Papers 1680, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1680
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Taxing the Workalcoholics
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-04-25 01:34:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Tsoukis & Frédéric Tournemaine, 2013. "Status In A Canonical Macro Model: Labour Supply, Growth And Inequality," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 81(s2), pages 65-92, October.
    2. Tournemaine, Frederic & Tsoukis, Christopher, 2010. "Gain versus pain from status and ambition: Effects on growth and inequality," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 286-294, April.
    3. Helmut Rainer & Ian Smith, 2012. "Education, Communication and Wellbeing: An Application to Sexual Satisfaction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 581-598, November.
    4. Donatella Cavagnoli, 2008. "Addiction to work: An Inelastic Wage Elasticity of Labour Supply Equals Long Hours of Work," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 11(2), pages 129-147.
    5. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2014. "Not Enough Time?," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 59(2), pages 119-127, November.
    6. Sachiko Kuroda & Isamu Yamamoto, 2019. "Why Do People Overwork at the Risk of Impairing Mental Health?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(5), pages 1519-1538, June.
    7. Florian Scheuer & Joel Slemrod, 2019. "Taxation and the Superrich," CESifo Working Paper Series 7817, CESifo.
    8. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Jürges, Hendrik, 2012. "Do workers underreport morbidity? The accuracy of self-reports of chronic conditions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(9), pages 1589-1594.
    9. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2017. "Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
    10. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & H. Xavier Jara, 2020. "‘Fair’ welfare comparisons with heterogeneous tastes: subjective versus revealed preferences," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 55(1), pages 51-84, June.
    11. David HUDGINS & Deniz GEVREK, 2015. "A labor utility index to measure worker welfare and labor market performance," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(3(604), A), pages 155-170, Autumn.
    12. Gerritsen, Aart, 2016. "Optimal taxation when people do not maximize well-being," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 122-139.
    13. Stephen DeLoach & Jennifer Platania, 2013. "The Macroeconomic Consequences of Financing Health Insurance," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 19(2), pages 107-129, May.
    14. Lonnie Golden, 2009. "A Brief History of Long Work Time and the Contemporary Sources of Overwork," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 217-227, January.
    15. David Boje & Jo Tyler, 2009. "Story and Narrative Noticing: Workaholism Autoethnographies," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 173-194, January.
    16. Cinthya Caamal Olvera., 2007. "Oferta Laboral en México: un enfoque de variables instrumentales," Ensayos Revista de Economia, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Economia, vol. 0(1), pages 115-154, May.
    17. Jukka Pirttilä & Sanna Tenhunen, 2008. "Pawns and queens revisited: public provision of private goods when individuals make mistakes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(5), pages 599-619, October.
    18. repec:agr:journl:v:3(604):y:2015:i:3(604):p:155-170 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Yaniv, Gideon, 2011. "Workaholism and marital estrangement: A rational-choice perspective," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 104-108, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax policy; retirement; labor supply; addiction;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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