Why is a Job so Important?

To achieve happiness, one of the key ingredients is finding something to do. This can take many forms, especially depending on ones financial situation, but for most entails paid employment in which one has a high degree of job satisfaction (see Wikipedia "Gainful Employment"). 

Many studies have shown that being in work positively contributes to subjective wellbeing. A core set of factors has been shown to be associated with subjective wellbeing. Employment status is one of the most important factors.


Unemployed people have much lower levels of subjective wellbeing than those employed. This is in part because work has effects on many other variables that influence wellbeing. Unemployment reduces a person’s income and reduces happiness directly by destroying the self-respect and social relationships created by work.

Employment status is a key factor associated with the other four subjective wellbeing measures (life satisfaction, happiness, standard of living and family).

There are significant positive effects work has on physical and mental health and wellbeing. Worklessness on the contrary is associated with poorer physical and mental health and lower wellbeing. Work can also be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment. That is true for healthy people of working age, for many disabled people, for most people with common health problems and for social security beneficiaries.

In short:

  • Employment is generally the most important means of obtaining adequate economic  resources, which are essential for material well-being and full participation in society;

  • Work meets important psychosocial needs in societies where employment is the norm;

  • Work is central to individual identity, social roles and social status; and

  • Employment and socio-economic status are the main drivers of social gradients in physical and mental health and mortality.