UK Study: Hospital Janitors More Valuable to Society than Bankers

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
(photo: thp365, Flickr)

What a person earns isn’t as important as what they bring to society, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF). The self-described “think-and-do tank” examined a range of high- and low-paying jobs in British society and concluded that bankers and advertising executives shouldn’t receive the same esteem as janitors or parents. “We found that some of the most highly paid benefit us least, and some of the lowest-paid benefit us most,” wrote the NEF in its report. “Although this will not always hold, it does point to a massive flaw in the system and highlights the need for reform.”

Investment bankers may be the envy of some because of their paychecks, but their work comes “at a huge cost because of the damaging social effects” they inflict through their decision-making. NEF researchers determined that bankers destroy £7 ($11) of social value for every pound in value they generate.
Advertising executives rank even worse than bankers. By encouraging overconsumption, they destroy £11 ($18) for every pound in value they generate.
In contrast, hospital janitors “play a vital role in the workings of our healthcare facilities.” Between cleaning hospitals and helping maintain good hygiene, janitors generate £10 ($16) in social value for every £1 ($1.60) they are paid.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
A Bit Rich (New Economics Foundation) (pdf)


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