The Public Interest

The work ethic - then and now

Seymour Martin Lipset

Winter 1990

BELIEFS about the work ethic vary over time and place. There is, however, a general inclination for older people to believe that things were better—or at least more moral, more decent—when they were young. As Adriano Tilgher, a historian of work, wrote in 1931, “Every country resounds to the lament that the work-force does not burn in the younger generation, the post-war generation.”

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