That Property Boom Could Be the Reason Employees Are Goofing Off

(Bloomberg) -- A property market boom could lead to employees being more distracted at work as they spend extra time shopping online, and show up late or leave early, a study showed.

A 5 percent monthly gain in real-estate prices caused an 8 percent rise in shirking behavior, according to a study by the National University of Singapore Business School using data on three Chinese cities and credit-card information. About 60 percent of home-owning employees saw “an increase in their propensity” to attend to personal matters during work hours, and such behavior was more prominent among those with multiple properties, it said.

“When home prices spike, home owners benefit from a large windfall of wealth, increasing the appeal of leisure and the opportunity cost of effort,” Wenlan Qian, an associate professor at NUS Business School, wrote in Singapore’s Sunday Times. “In other words, home owners who see their property wealth sharply increase find it less rewarding to exert effort in their jobs.”

There was no such effect among those who rented their homes, Qian wrote.

The joint study between academics in Singapore and China used 9 million credit card transactions from 200,000 holders provided by an unidentified Chinese commercial bank. The effort focused on Shanghai, Hangzhou and Xiamen, which saw record-setting land auction prices in a span of 22 months that also triggered higher prices in surrounding areas.

“Although based on data from China, our findings provide strong evidence that a booming property market in any location influences individual work-effort decisions, leading to significant labor and productivity implications for the aggregate economy,” Qian said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.