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Study: US Workers Would Take Pay Cuts for Improved Quality of Life

FILE -- A recent survey finds that 77% of respondents prioritize a balanced life over advancement at work.
FILE -- A recent survey finds that 77% of respondents prioritize a balanced life over advancement at work.
Study: US Workers Would Take Pay Cuts for Improved Quality of Life
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Just over half of U.S. workers would be willing to take a 20 percent pay cut in exchange for a better quality of life, a recent survey found.

Lynn Bufka is a clinical psychologist with ties to the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. “I do think people are really struggling figuring out what work-life balance is,” she said. “And recognizing, certainly in parts of the U.S., that we have a drive to work and perform and succeed. And increasingly, we're realizing this isn't good for us.”

Younger adults are even more in favor of giving up money for what they consider a better life, the survey found. Sixty percent of millennials, people aged 27 to 42, said they would accept less money for a better work-life balance. Fifty-six percent of Generation Z adults, people aged 18 up to 26, said the same thing.

“These results don't surprise me,” Julia Toothacre told VOA in an email. She is a job advisor at “The younger generations have been very vocal about the need for balance in their life. It's important to note that it doesn't mean they are less ambitious. It just means they are looking for flexibility, and they aren't willing to sacrifice their health the way other generations have.”

When it comes to older adults, 45 percent of Generation X, people aged 43 to 59, would take the 20 percent pay cut to get a better work-life balance. But only 33 percent of Baby Boomers, those aged 60 to 78, would do the same.

It is something that Toothacre has experienced in her work. She said many of her clients want some flexibility for life events and things like doctor’s visits.

“Work-life balance is very important to my clients. Most of my clients come to me because they aren't happy in their current career, or they are looking for a more balanced and flexible career path,” she said.

The survey was carried out by Ford Motor Company in August and September 2023 and included 16,086 online interviews with adults in 16 countries, including the United States. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed say they believed a balanced life was more important than a higher-paying position at work.

“If our only definition of ourselves is what we do and our work, we are neglecting…our social sense of self, our spiritual sense of self,” Bufka said.

There is also a practical side of work-life balance and the willingness to limit time worked in exchange for less money.

Bufka said people need time away from work to keep their households operating. If people feel like they do not have enough time, “there's always going to be a tension between the immediate demands of household and family, and work.”

I’m Dan Novak.

Dora Mekouar wrote this story for Voice of America. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

survey — n. a study in which people are asked their opinions about a subject

figure out –v. (phrasal) to come to understand by thinking

vocal — adj. to say out loud or to say loudly

ambitious –adj. wanting to succeed or to do great things

flexible — adj. the ability to change what one has to do depending on the situation, often in an effort to make things better

client –n. a person who pays someone else to assist them in doing something

neglect — v. to fail to do or take care of something

practical — adj. something relating to real life and not to ideal situations or book learning