I'm a musician and songwriter and I remember thinking that I would pay money, perhaps even a lot of money, to be able play a venue with 50,000 people. That was the moment that I began thinking about the sorts of circumstances where someone would pay to work.
There are actually quite a few circumstances where people either pay to work or work for free. The most widespread example of paying to work are graduate students. They work their asses off and pay tuition for the privilege of doing so.
Let's move from the skilled and somewhat elite graduate students or hobbyist songwriters and consider the meaning of jobs at the lower end of the skill spectrum. It turns out that for many people, the job itself has a significant positive impact on happiness:
[T]he well-established finding that unemployment has major negative effects on well-being, including both mental and physical health. And the effects are remarkably persistent. A study using German panel data examined changes in reported life satisfaction after marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a spouse, layoff, and unemployment. All had predictable effects in the short term, but for five of the six the effect generally wore off with time: the joy of having a new baby subsided, while the pain of a loved one’s death gradually faded. The exception was unemployment: even after five years, the researchers found little evidence of adaptation.
Evidence even more directly on point comes from the experience of welfare reform – specifically, the imposition of work requirements on recipients of public assistance. Interestingly, studies of the economic consequences of reform showed little or no change in recipients’ material well-being. But a pair of studies found a positive impact on single mothers’ happiness as a result of moving off welfare and finding work.It turns out you may be able to buy happiness and that happiness takes the form of a job. If you didn't have a job but did have money, it might be worth buying the job with that money.