Do the Wealthy Work Harder Than the Rest?

I know this is a daring concept and one that likely does not sit well with some–especially those who believe that a 40-hour week is a God-given right.

As a former teacher, I cringe when I hear bleating from teachers who complain that they are overworked and underpaid.  Sure, teachers’ salaries aren’t very high–and some are just plain low–but in spite of what the complainers try to make you believe, many enter the profession not because of their desire to better the world, one child at a time (although that is how it works with many good teachers), but because of the family-friendly work hours and the usually very good benefits.

Of course, most teachers’ days do not always end when the 3:00 bell sounds.  However, built into teachers’ work schedules are an hour — sometimes two hours — of planning time, where they can use that time to create lesson plans and/or grade papers, so the complaint that the workday extends past the closing bell is not a particularly valid one.  Of course, there are teachers who use their planning time to socialize in the teachers’ lounge and to gossip about their students — and there is lots of gossip — but that is up to them.  After school activities like coaching and sponsorship of organizations almost always include extra pay for the teachers performing those duties.

What other job includes a fall break, a winter break, a spring break and an extended summer break?  How many jobs include free parking and very inexpensive lunches — generally no more than 10% more than what the students are charged. Healthcare benefits and life insurance benefits are as good as or better than those offered in major corporations, where many professionals (and teachers are college-educated professionals) are expected to put in 60+ hours/week on a routine basis.

Obama’s Class Warfare — and teachers are often on the front lines of that war — rarely, if ever, takes into consideration the difference in the hours and the structure of the evil wealthy people whose jobs they demonize.

Of course, not everyone who works long hours becomes wealthy.  Some, who in spite of their education and their training, do not make it into the leagues of the wealthy.  However, it is rare that you hear those hard workers complaining about the wealthy.  Instead, the Occupy Movement participants and those who have made class envy an art form are loath to use their hands for much more than to extend them for a handout nor are they willing to give up the comfort of their relatively brief work days and their relatively extensive vacations to do much more than complain and waste their time envying others.

  • April 27, 2012, 3:09 PM ET

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 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 paper, by Orazio Attanasio, Erik Hurst and Luigi Pistaferri, finds that both income inequality and consumption inequality (the stuff that people buy) have increased over the past 20 years.

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. (Mr. Hurst says that education levels are a “proxy” for incomes, since they tend to correspond).

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. Educated women, in other words, had the largest decline in leisure time of the four groups.

Full report here:

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