For retired and homemaking folks, I think that’s really up to them. I don’t have a good model for external evaluation. For a student who wants to do impactful things later, I think the calculations are similar. Since I can’t link to it easily, I’m reposting a FB post by Rob Wiblin on a similar point: “There’s something kinda funny about how we don’t place much value on the time of high school and undergraduate students.To see that, imagine that person X will very likely be able to do highly valuable work for society and earn a high peak income of say $100 an hour by the time they’re 35. As a result they’ll work a solid 50-60 hours a week.But today, as a 19 year old undergraduate, X is only able to earn $15 in hospitality. They also feel they quickly hit declining returns on studying and so, like many undergrads, spend a lot of time goofing off and having fun, because it seems like the opportunity cost of their time is really low.That’s fine as a lifestyle choice, but the whole scenario is also… weird. If their career advancement is purely determined by how quickly they learn what they need to learn, and generally become fully-fledged adults, then the true opportunity cost of each hour should be closer to $100 than $20. That’s because each extra day of training they do now should bring forward the day they reach their peak productivity by about… a day. Their opportunity cost being low is an illusion stemming from it not yet being tangible and measurable.If we model career progression as literally just a linear series of steps that take you from zero productivity up to a peak plateau productivity, before then going back down due to the effects of ageing, then the opportunity cost at the outset, before you’ve learned anything at all is… the productivity at the peak.Of course many things interfere with this simplified analysis:• Becoming more productive is partly just a matter of growing older in calendar time, as the brain, body and personality mature.• Lots and lots of career capital is gained through ‘goofing off’, following random interests, exploring the world, working on yourself & your mental health, and socialising. People who skip these parts of life often face problem later on. So what looks ‘unproductive’ will often be as good as or better than formal training.• If you’re on an inflexible path (e.g. becoming a radiologist) there may simply be no way to speed up the rate at which you learn or can start working. You have to go through a series of predetermined steps that suit the average participant, using materials you can’t access yourself, and which occur in calendar time no matter what you do.• People also want to have fun — work and productivity are far from everything.The main lessons I draw from this are:• The true opportunity costs of talented young people are higher than they initially appear, maybe much higher.
• When young people can’t afford the tools they need to learn most effectively, this is no joke. Rather it’s a heartbreaking waste of human capital.
This kind of thing includes: a great laptop, peripherals and desk; ability to commute quickly; a quiet house or room to study in; connection with colleagues to form a study group; a great bed and other things that improve sleep; help with mental and physical health when required; etc. Basically all the stuff that’s ‘profitable’ for 40 year-old professionals who earn a lot and so value every hour of their time.
• Having training systems that allow people to choose to work harder and advance faster are good. At least if they don’t eat into valuable informal learning.
• It can be a real waste of society’s limited human capital to have high school, undergrad and postgrad students waiting tables to pay the bills, just because they have no collateral with which to borrow against their likely future income.”