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Using country-level data from 2000-2013, we test the relationship between life satisfaction (measured as how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings) and the motivation to work (measured as aggregate hours of work). Our hypothesis is that even after controlling for average labor income tax rates in countries with high and low average hours worked, there is a significant negative association between the motivation to work and life satisfaction. The main findings of this paper are that the increase in the motivation to work per employee comes at the expense of life satisfaction, and differences in average tax rates on labor income cannot account for differences in time allocation. Once life satisfaction is included, the hypotheses of previous neoclassical economic studies are almost irrelevant in determining the response of market hours to higher average tax rates on labor income. In line with our assumption, we find a negative relationship between life satisfaction and the motivation to work in the cross-country examinations. In countries with the highest hours worked (Hungary, Estonia), wealth is generally preferred to leisure and in countries with the lowest hours worked (France, Germany), leisure is preferred to wealth.


This article was originally published in Economics and Sociology, volume 10, issue 3, in 2017. DOI: 10.14254/2071-789X.2017/10-3/19

Peer Reviewed



Centre of Sociological Research

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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