Working and happiness go together

by Ryan Streeter on June 22, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Arthur Brooks’ NYT op-ed last week on the importance of fathers in the future work lives of their children was a good read. It also included this important reminder about work and wellbeing, which is relevant as we all continue to try to figure out what is behind our troubled labor market numbers:

The University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics polls thousands of American families, and its 2009 results show that people who feel good about themselves work more than those who don’t. It asks how often the respondents felt so sad that nothing could cheer them up. My analysis of the study showed that people who felt that way “none of the time” worked 10 percent more hours per week than those who felt that way “most of the time.” This holds true when we eliminate people who worked zero hours, so it is not merely that unemployed people are miserable. This doesn’t prove that extra work hours chase away sadness, but it weakens any argument that the cure for the blues is a French workweek.