According to a new study by economists, however, workers under the age of 45 actually feel higher levels of satisfaction when they see their peers earning more than them.
The study, named ‘So Far So Good: Age, Sex, Happiness and Relative Income’, comprised of a number of surveys carried out in Germany.
Researchers divided participants into peer groups depending on their level of education, location and age. The idea was that everyone within these group fitted into one of two main categories: the hare (people promoted early in their careers) and tortoises (people who took longer to develop).
Results showed that the ‘tortoises’ in the younger peer group were spurred on by the ‘hares’ because seeing others do well allowed them to develop aspirations to experience the same levels of success.
The tortoises in the over 45 group, however, were more disheartened by the hares (possibly because they were more likely to feel like they’d already reached the pinnacle of their careers).
Professor Feliz FitzRoy, the report’s co-author, believes the findings emphasise just how important aspirations are for young people today. He said: “In a situation like the current austerity, these aspirations are being systematically destroyed because young graduates are lucky to get jobs and if they do, they are usually below their qualifications.”
This can be disheartening for young people trying to get a foothold on the career ladder: a self-esteem hit that could stay with them throughout their careers and prevent them from reaching their potentials.
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