1887

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Improving Well-Being in the United States

Life is quite good in the United States compared to other OECD countries, thanks to strong economic growth and technological progress having lifted average income to high levels. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the benefits from growth have not been sufficiently broad based. Self-reported happiness increases with income, an issue particularly resonant in a country with among the highest levels of income inequality in the OECD and a pattern of inequality that appears to be moving toward even more concentration at the very top at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Working hours that remain among the longest in the OECD are also creating challenges for work-life balances, child education, personal care and leisure. These pressures are contributing to higher job strain and work-related stress with unhealthy consequences, including for mental health, and a detrimental impact on employability and medical costs. While these trends cannot be easily reversed, a number of policy options are being usefully rolled out and other initiatives are being considered: federal-level policies improving access to health care and early-childhood education, state-level initiatives favouring workplace flexibility, firm-level investments in job quality and greater attention to the health consequences of job-stress. If successfully adopted, they would go a long way toward improving the well-being of American working families. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of United States (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/United States).

English

Keywords: wage level and structure, education, job satisfaction, time allocation and labour supply, quality of life, provision and effects of welfare programmes
JEL: I24: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education and Inequality; J31: Labor and Demographic Economics / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs / Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials; I30: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: General; J28: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy; J22: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Time Allocation and Labor Supply; I38: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
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