• Ashley Whillans


2022, Paper: "How did job satisfaction change during the pandemic for workers in low-wage jobs, and how did workers’ experiences compare to those in professional jobs? Using nationally representative survey data, we show that the pandemic increased the dissatisfaction of workers in low-wage jobs and the importance of pay in determining overall job satisfaction for these workers. Before and during the pandemic, workers in low-wage jobs were significantly less satisfied than those in professional jobs. We then surveyed a group of managers about their perceptions of workers in low-wage jobs during the pandemic. Managers believed workers in low-wage jobs were less satisfied, which lead them to believe these workers would be less committed and thus deserved lower pay. We conclude by discussing our two key discoveries. First, we advance research on job satisfaction by providing evidence—that contrasts with existing findings—for differences in job satisfaction across different pay levels. Second, we contribute to the literature on stereotypes by documenting unique occupational stereotypes that perpetuate inequality. As jobs become more precarious and income inequality rises, the future of work requires greater attention to workers in low-wage job, as well as the psychological barriers to improving these jobs."

Non-HKS Harvard Faculty Author - Ashley Whilians