People increasingly think that hard work doesn’t pay off
Having access to decent employment opportunities is a major structural element of the social contract. It shapes the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers, fostering social mobility and in turn a fair distribution of resources and power in a society. Yet, survey data reveals that people are rather pessimistic that one can get ahead by working hard – and in most regions more so than they were a decade ago. This pessimism is particularly pronounced in Europe and Central Asia where more than one-quarter of individuals surveyed think they cannot get ahead by working hard.
Figure: Share of respondents who think people cannot get ahead by working hard, 2006 and 2016 (percentages)
The fact that many people do not think that working hard will improve their situation is particularly worrying. In fact, such a view may discourage individual investments in education and training – with important negative repercussions for dependents – while also incentivizing outward, skilled migration – with significant implications for countries’ productive capacity and development path.