Why People Work
The question "Why do you work?" was not put directly in the individual interviews, but was answered indirectly in response to other questions. Nearly all the working men and women mentioned specific objectives which required money -- whether the fundamental necessities, better housing and household goods, social status, economic security, or what not. The requirement of a job, of one's main job, is that "the pay is good."
It would be superfluous to cite all the specifications or to classify minutely the responses in this regard, in view of the obvious felt need that most persons face during a substantial part of their lives: to earn money as a means to consumption which is essential to themselves or others dependent on them or to a standard of living which they seek to attain or maintain. There was no indication impairing the common assumption that income for this purpose is a major incentive to work.
When the question was asked what current wants people were working to meet out of their incomes, better housing (in most cases home ownership) was cited as the most important by about one half of the 503 respondents; home furnishings, recreation, travel, and automobile also rated high among felt needs -- i.e., incentives to work. So did the provision of proper care and opportunities for children. Other questions brought out other needs.
Among questions asked about longer-term objectives one was about "security" as an incentive. "When you think of security, what do you think of?" About one fourth indicated a good or steady job with good income; but to about one half it meant savings -- buying a home, keeping a savings account, and owning personal insurance being favorite forms. Obviously material security was regarded as an important incentive for work. (In Chapter 7, security is treated more fully.)
In answer to a related question, "What else [than to meet immediate needs] is your family working for?" ownership of a home, provi