Jobs and society  |  Publications  |  07.07.2011

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

This report by the New Economics Foundation takes a new approach to looking at the value of work. It goes beyond how much different professions are paid to look at what they contribute to society.

Pay matters. The incomes of the very rich and the very poor continue to pull away from each other. This is influenced by many factors but wage inequality is at the heart of them. It is a corrosive, destabilising issue that is linked to a range of social problems. It disproportionately affects some groups – particularly women, who predominate in low paid (and unpaid) work.

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?

The least well paid jobs are often those that are among the most socially valuable – jobs that keep our communities and families together. The market does not reward this kind of work well, and such jobs are consequently undervalued or overlooked.

This report goes beyond how much different professions are paid to look at what they contribute to society using 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.

Edited extract from the executive summary.

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