Happiness, Technology, and the Changing Employment Relationship


Thomas S. Ulen

The conventional economic view of the employment relationship is giving way to a rethinking based on empirical findings from the behavioral and happiness literatures and predictions about the changing nature of technological change and worker productivity. This article first reviews the standard economic view of employment and then contrasts that view with the newer views emerging from behavioral economics and the psychological study of the determinants of subjective well-being. Next the article looks at some important changes in the relationship between technology and employment and how those changes might affect employment law and policy. The article stresses evidence on the social and psychological aspects of employment and highlights the policy implications of viewing the employment relationship in those lights, as a complement to viewing it as a purely economic phenomenon.