If you won enough money from the lottery that you could live comfortably without working for the rest of your life, would you continue to work?
Bowling Green State University researchers Scott Highhouse, Michael J. Zickar, and Maya Yankelevich analyzed data for the last 30 years and found a slight decline in the percentage of people who said they would keep working.
They said the "lottery question" provides insight on America's work ethic and influencing factors.
The idea came from a similar 1980 study that used available data from the National Opinion Research Center, which found that 72 percent of total respon-dents said they would continue to work after winning the lottery, down from 80 percent in a 1955 study.
"We were just really curious," Mr. Zickar said.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Opinion Research Center from 1980 through 2006. The center had collected information from 15,420 working men and women, and asked them not only the lottery question, but also their level of life satisfaction, job satisfaction, and general happiness.
The researchers found that the percentage of people who would continue working decreased to 68 percent by 2006. They also found that satisfaction levels did not correlate significantly with this result.
But the results do not signify a weaker American work ethic, Mr. Highhouse said. "Another possible reason is that people are more honest now with the survey," he said.
The latest study found no differences between men and women, or by race, but age was more of a factor - a slightly higher percentage of younger respondents said they would continue to work.
"Probably most obviously because older people are thinking about life after retirement," Mr. Highhouse said.
Clinton Longenecker, the Stranahan professor of leadership and organizational excellence at the University of Toledo, said the study results make sense.
The main reasons that make people drop out of work are bad bosses, boredom, stress, and poor working relationships, he said. The poor economy now creates more stress.
"As the workplace becomes more stressful, … pressure can easily cause people to cut back," Mr. Longenecker said.
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