You Can’t Always Get What You Want: Inequality in Subjective Labor Market Success at Mid-Life

Jonathan Daw, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jessica H. Hardie, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

How should we define labor market success? Standard labor force attainment models assume that income, educational levels, occupational prestige, etc. in various combinations are the best evaluations of success. Yet researchers typically assume the existence of compensating differentials in the labor market, in which lifestyle and work fulfillment advantages make up for pay lower than one’s productivity merits. In this paper, we evaluate labor market success subjectively, using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study to weight several achieved job characteristics using prospective job preferences measured 17 years beforehand. Using this new lens on labor force achievement and distributional, gender, educational and occupational inequality, we explore what it means to have labor force success at the individual level.

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Presented in Session 63: The Dynamics of Social and Economic Well-Being