Saturday, September 30, 2023

Good Jobs

Traditional economics has a preference for redistributive rather than predistributive policies. However, some pathologies of our economic system can only be tackled when they originate. This is the case of bad jobs.

The quality of employment (Rodrik's "good jobs") is given by a series of material and immaterial characteristics. With respect to the material ones, the first is without a doubt real wages high enough to more than satisfy in a lasting way (with stability) people's vital needs (so that a large majority of working people feel part of the "middle class" and fully integrated into society). And the second is quantifiable or objectively decent working conditions, such as working hours and the structure of the working schedule, the possibilities of promotion (within the same organization or in other organizations) or the possibility of combining the professional career with other vital activities. Among the immaterial characteristics, we can consider the degree of creativity of the tasks to be developed, the formal or informal representation in decision-making about the tasks to be carried out or in the governance of the company, the quality of personal relationships in the company organization and in daily work (including the relationship with customers and suppliers) and in general the degree of "disutility" (anxiety, exhaustion, "stress", "burnout") of the effort in the workplace or to what extent the workplace contributes to personal self-fulfillment and satisfaction, including training and learning opportunities. 

Good jobs are workplaces where there is no abuse of power or exploitation of vulnerable situations, or verbal or sexual abuse, where trust and cooperation are valued, and where power is distributed and decisions are made fairly and transparently, with autonomy and participation of working people. Included in this section would be those issues that have to do with whether new technologies are used to replace or control work, on the one hand, or if they are used to improve work experience and work productivity, on the other, along the lines of Acemoglu and Johnson in their recent book "Power and Progress".

This is not something that can be addressed with taxes and transfers. It requires “relational” policies that operate in concert with strong and functional worker unions, without stifling the innovation incentives and flexibility of organizations.

No comments:

Post a Comment