16 January 2010

The Real Value of Work

Reposted in full from the new economics foundation newsletter, January 2010

'Hospital cleaners are worth more to society than elite City bankers, according to new analysis from nef. Our new report, A Bit Rich?, uses new quantification techniques to calculate the value created for society by a range of different professions. For each, the authors measured the conventional economic returns, such as the number of jobs created, as well as key environmental impacts, including climate change effects, and social impacts, for example contribution to individual or community well-being. Weighing up the positive and negative economic, environmental and social impacts produced an overall result for each occupation. The results revealed that the more poorly paid jobs - hospital cleaners, recycling workers and childcare professionals - were more valuable to society than the highly paid jobs, high-earning City bankers, advertising executives and accountants helping the most wealthy individuals and companies avoid tax.

The research highlights the fact that, at the moment, salaries are a very poor indicator of the contribution a job makes to society and that some of the most valuable roles are the least well-paid. nef believes that we need a pay structure which recognises all aspects of value and rewards those jobs that create most benefit to society, rather than rewarding work which generates profit at the expense of society and the environment.'

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