Overworking Is Part of Our Identity

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn is an assistant professor of public policy at Rutgers University. His work focuses on income inequality, consumption, cultural economics, religion and happiness.


Many people chasing the American Dream are working long hours and skipping vacation to reach it. Most employees strongly believe, compared with people in other countries, that hard work pays off in success. But they seem to overestimate income mobility: Research by Miles Corak, for instance, shows that mobility is higher in some other countries than in the U.S.

My research shows that Americans who work over 40 hours a week are more happy than those who work less – so are they happy being overworked? Europeans, on the other hand, are different – they seem to value leisure time more, and accordingly those who work over 40 hours are less happy than those working less.

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