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Soc Sci Res. 2013 Mar;42(2):255-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.09.012. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Changing work values in the United States, 1973-2006.

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Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States. Electronic address:


This article examines changes in workers' work values for the period 1973-2006 using General Social Survey data. We assess the relative importance that workers assign to high income, as opposed to security, advancement, short hours and "importance and sense of accomplishment." The latter ranked highest throughout this period, but the relative priority placed on income and job security generally increased. We suggest that the rising relative rankings of earnings and job security reflect growing job, employability, and economic insecurity that workers generally experienced during this period, making these job characteristics generally more difficult to attain. Groups most vulnerable to job, employability, and economic insecurity-such as less educated workers and blacks-were most apt to place high importance on income and security. Differences in rankings between men and women, blacks and nonblacks, and college and high school graduates remained fairly stable over this period.

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