Are You Happy While You Work?

Publication date: 27 Jun 2013 | Publication type: Press and broadcast | Theme: Macroeconomics | NIESR Author(s): Bryson, A | External Author(s): George MacKerron

Happiness surveys typically ask people to say how they feel about their life experiences in retrospect, but smartphone technology makes it possible to collect responses on wellbeing ‘in the moment’. We use this new ‘Mappiness’ data source to question whether we really are happy while we work. We find that paid work is ranked lower than any of the other 39 activities people engage in, with the exception of being sick in bed. The effect is equivalent to a 7-8% reduction in happiness relative to circumstances in which someone is not working. Precisely how unhappy or anxious someone is while working depends on the circumstances. Wellbeing at work varies significantly with where you work (at home, at work or elsewhere); whether you are combining work with other activities; whether you are alone or with others; and the time of day or night at which you are working.

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