Quantifying the massive premium paid to people who work in "bullshit jobs"

It's been five years since David Graeber's original, groundbreaking essay on "bullshit jobs" (socially useless busywork that everyone -- including the holders of bullshit jobs -- knew to be a tremendous waste of time), and now he's got a whole book on the subject (if you're in LA, you can see me interviewing him about it on June 13).

In an excerpt from the book published on Linkedin (!), Graeber quantifies the premium that the market assigns to bullshit jobs, citing a 2017 paper by Benjamin B. Lockwood, Charles G. Nathanson, and E. Glen Weyl, which calculates how much each job costs society ("externalities") and how much it gives back to society ("spillover effects").

The most socially useful profession is medical research, which produces $9 in benefit for every dollar that goes into it. Finance workers produce -$1.80 for every dollar they're paid.

city banker – yearly salary c. £5 million – estimated £7 of social value destroyed for every £1 earned;

advertising executive – yearly salary c. £500,000, estimated £11.50 of social value destroyed per £1 paid;

tax accountant – yearly salary c. £125,000, estimated £11.20 of social value destroyed per £1 paid;

hospital cleaner – yearly income c. £13,000 (£6.26 per hour), estimated £10 of social value generated per £1 paid;

recycling worker – yearly income c. £12,500 (£6.10 per hour) – estimated £12 in social value generated per £1 paid;

nursery worker – salary c. £11,500 – estimated £7 in social value generated per £1 paid.

The more valuable your work is to society, the less you’ll be paid for it [David Graeber/Linkedin]

(via Naked Capitalism)

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