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

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  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Joel Slemrod

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 evidence and theory suggest that the negative effects of workaholism can be addressed with a more progressive income tax system than would be appropriate in the absence of this behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh & Joel Slemrod, 2005. "The Economics of Workaholism: We Should Not Have Worked on This Paper," NBER Working Papers 11566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11566
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "Timing, togetherness and time windfalls," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(4), pages 601-623.
    2. Ravi Kanbur & Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 2006. "Non-Welfarist Optimal Taxation And Behavioural Public Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(5), pages 849-868, December.
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    5. Yuk-fai Fong & Junsen Zhang, 2001. "The Identification of Unobservable Independent and Spousal Leisure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 191-202, February.
    6. Steven J. Haider & Melvin Stephens, 2007. "Is There a Retirement-Consumption Puzzle? Evidence Using Subjective Retirement Expectations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 247-264, May.
    7. 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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    13. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jungmin Lee, 2007. "Stressed Out on Four Continents: Time Crunch or Yuppie Kvetch?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 374-383, May.
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    Citations

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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, 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. 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.
    5. repec:eee:jjieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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.
    7. Gerritsen, Aart, 2016. "Optimal taxation when people do not maximize well-being," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 122-139.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. David Boje & Jo Tyler, 2009. "Story and Narrative Noticing: Workaholism Autoethnographies," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 173-194, January.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. repec:agr:journl:v:3(604):y:2015:i:3(604):p:155-170 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Yaniv, Gideon, 2011. "Workaholism and marital estrangement: A rational-choice perspective," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 104-108, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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