Why Americans and Britons work such long hours

THE YEAR ahead will, like every year, consist of just under 8,800 hours. Most people will spend about a third of that time sleeping, and another third or so arguing on social media. Much of the remainder will be spent at work. There is increased interest in corners of the political world in trying to reduce the amount of time people must spend on the job. The Labour Party in Britain has said it will consider introducing a four-day work week when it is next in power. Figures on the American left are similarly intrigued by the idea. To assess whether such moves to reduce working time have any merit first requires an understanding of why hours in those countries have not fallen more already.

Declines in hours worked per person are among the least-sung benefits of economic development. In the late 19th century workers in industrialised economies knew labour and little else. In 1870 full-time work generally meant between 60 and 70 hours of labour per week, or more than 3...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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