Robert Dur, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Macroeconomic Conditions When Young Shape Job Preferences for Life
Preferences for monetary and non-monetary job attributes are important for understanding the motivation of workers and the organization of work. But little is known about how those job preferences are shaped and how they change over time. We investigate how macroeconomic conditions shape job preferences using variation in income per capita across US regions and over time since the 1920s. We find that job preferences vary in systematic ways with macroeconomic conditions, with job meaning gaining much more priority in good times and income in bad times, and that this holds particularly for young people. Most importantly, we show that macroeconomic conditions during the impressionable years (18-25 years old) have permanent effects on job preferences. Deep recessions thus create cohorts of workers who give higher priority to income for the rest of their career, whereas booms make cohorts permanently care more about job meaning.