The Changing (Dis-)Utility of Work

46 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2018

See all articles by Greg Kaplan

Greg Kaplan

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Sam Schulhofer-Wohl

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 27, 2018


We study how changes in the distribution of occupations have affected the aggregate non-pecuniary costs and benefits of working. The physical toll of work is smaller now than in 1950, with workers shifting away from occupations in which people report experiencing tiredness and pain. The emotional consequences of the changing occupation distribution vary substantially across demographic groups. Work has become happier and more meaningful for women, but more stressful and less meaningful for men. These changes appear to be concentrated at lower education levels.

Keywords: Labor supply, Well-being, Stress, Meaningfulness, Happiness

JEL Classification: I31, J22, J24, J28, N32

Suggested Citation

Kaplan, Greg and Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, The Changing (Dis-)Utility of Work (June 27, 2018). Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics Working Paper No. 2018-43. Available at SSRN: or

Greg Kaplan (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 E. 59th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Sam Schulhofer-Wohl

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States


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