I find this fascinating, and I'm glad I read it but I'll immediately reject the form of the argument and remind myself that this is in The Economist, and it has a target demo, (So it also has an agenda)
Here are some choice quotes:
"Overall working hours have fallen over the past century. But the rich have begun to work longer hours than the poor. In 1965 men with a college degree, who tend to be richer, had a bit more leisure time than men who had only completed high school. But by 2005 the college-educated had eight hours less of it a week than the high-school grads."
The value of a college degree is quite different today, in 1965 you didn't get a degree and then "tend to be richer" you were also, almost assured employment, that is, a college degree was a key to a labour market that other's wouldn't have access to. Today a lit major can aspire to be a Barista if he so chooses, but so can a slacker type high school dropout. (Relax, there's a joke in there, somewhere.
"There are fewer really dull jobs, like lift-operating, and more glamorous ones, like fashion design"
There's a LOT to unpack here, instead I'll just say: Huh.
"The occupations in which people are least happy are manual and service jobs requiring little skill"
Are we meant to understand that they are least happy of all BECAUSE the job requires little skill?
"Job satisfaction tends to increase with the prestige of the occupation."
This is true, but I also know this to be a deliberate maneuver by employers to motivate workers into working more without also having to pay more. I'm saying here that where being a manager in the "Downtown Abbey" world had much more prestige as well as much more purchasing power than being a lower ranking employee (I'm making an educated guess here), managers are a dime a dozen in todays world. That is, there used to be a divide, a chasm, between being a mere peon and a manager, where today, that divide has moved now to separate middle managers from CEO types.
"passive leisure” (such as watching TV)"
Ah, this is is leisure.
"by opening a vast world of high-quality and cheap home entertainment, means that low-earners do not need to work as long to enjoy a reasonably satisfying leisure."
Ah yes, so the conclusion of the article is that smarter, richer people work more and watch less TV.
Seems the point of the article is to reinforce this very idea isnt it? That would put it in line with the editorial values of a site called "the Economist"