A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions – New Economics Foundation – 14 December 2009

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Workforce | Tags: , , , , |

A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions

“This report takes a new approach to looking at the value of work. We go beyond how much different professions are paid to look at what they contribute to society. We use some of the principles and valuation techniques of Social Return on Investment analysis to quantify the social, environmental and economic value that these roles produce – or in some cases undermine.
 
Pay matters. How much you earn can determine your lifestyle, where you can afford to live, and your aspirations and status. But to what extent does what we get paid confer ‘worth’? Beyond a narrow notion of productivity, what impact does our work have on the rest of society, and do the financial rewards we receive correspond to this? Do those that get more contribute more to society?
 
Our report tells the story of six different jobs. We have chosen jobs from across the private and public sectors and deliberately chosen ones that illustrate the problem. Three are low paid – a hospital cleaner, a recycling plant worker and a childcare worker. The others are highly paid – a City banker, an advertising executive and a tax accountant. We examined the contributions they make to society, and found that, in this case, it was the lower paid jobs which involved more valuable work.
 
The report goes on to challenge ten of the most enduring myths surrounding pay and work. People who earn more don’t necessarily work harder than those who earn less. The private sector is not necessarily more efficient than the public sector. And high salaries don’t necessarily reflect talent.
 
The report offers a series of policy recommendations that would reduce the inequality between different incomes and reconnect salaries with the value of work.”

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