I really love the work of the New Economics Foundation.
It’s clear that the amount we pay people does not correspond with the amount we value them (contrast teachers with stock traders, farmers with ad. execs). The NEF has gone on to calculate the real value of different professions.
The report goes on to challenge ten of the most enduring myths surrounding pay and work. People who earn more don’t necessarily work harder than those who earn less. The private sector is not necessarily more efficient than the public sector. And high salaries don’t necessarily reflect talent.
The BBC has a nice summary:
“The point we are making is more fundamental – that there should be a relationship between what we are paid and the value our work generates for society. We’ve found a way to calculate that,” she said.
A total of six different jobs were analysed to assess their overall value. These are the study’s main findings:
The elite banker
“Rather than being wealth creators bankers are being handsomely rewarded for bringing the global financial system to the brink of collapse
Paid between £500,000 and half a million and £80m a year, leading bankers destroy £7 of value for every pound they generate”.
“Both for families and society as a while looking after children could not be more important. As well as providing a valuable service for families, they release earnings potential by allowing parents to continue working. For every pound they are paid they generate up £9.50 worth of benefits to society”.
“Play a vital role in the workings of healthcare facilities. They not only clean hospitals and maintain hygiene standards but also contribute to wider health outcomes. For every pound paid, over £10 in social value is created”.
The industry “encourages high spending and indebtedness. It can create insatiable aspirations, fuelling feelings of dissatisfaction, inadequacy and stress. For a salary of between £50,000 and £12m top advertising executives destroy £11 of value for every pound in value they generate”.
“Every pound that a tax accountant saves a client is a pound which otherwise would have gone to HM Revenue. For a salary of between £75,000 and £200,000, tax accountants destroy £47 in value, for every pound they generate”.
Waste recycling workers
“Do a range of different jobs that relate to processing and preventing waste and promoting recycling. Carbon emissions are significantly reduced. There is also a value in reusing goods. For every pound of value spent on wages, £12 of value is generated for society.”
The research also makes a variety of policy recommendations to align pay more closely with the value of work.
These include establishing a high pay commission, building social and environmental value into prices, and introduce more progressive taxation.