Economist Robert Frank writing for the Wall Street Journal Wealth Report asks Do the Wealthy Work Harder Than the Rest?:
One of the most controversial issues surrounding inequality is work effort. Some on the right argue that top earners are successful in part because they work harder than others. Many on the left argue that the middle class and poor work just as hard – maybe even harder, with multiple jobs — but that the economic deck is stacked against them.
A new study [below] offers evidence that higher-educated (and therefore higher-earning) Americans do indeed spend more time working and less time on leisure than poorer income groups. In fact, while income inequality may be growing, “leisure inequality” – time spent on enjoyment – is growing as a mirror image, with the low earners gaining leisure and the high earners losing.
The more surprising discovery, however, is a corresponding leisure gap has opened up between the highly-educated and less-educated. Low-educated men saw their leisure hours grow to 39.1 hours in 2003-2007, from 36.6 hours in 1985. Highly-educated men saw their leisure hours shrink to 33.2 hours from 34.4 hours. … A similar pattern emerged for women. Low-educated women saw their leisure time grow to 35.2 hours a week from 35 hours. High-educated women saw their leisure time decrease to 30.3 hours from 32.2 hours. … (The study defines leisure as time spend watching TV, socializing, playing games, talking on the phone, reading personal email, enjoying entertainment and hobbies and other activities.) …
While the study doesn’t seek to prove that the high earners work harder “that story would be consistent with the data,” said Mr. Hurst.
These findings won’t come as a surprise to anyone with a fully intact frontal cortex, which means the radical class warrior left will be surprised by them.