Americans Don’t Need to Work More. They Already Are.

Matt Breunig: “Jeb Bush has made it clear that growth is going to be a big part of his campaign … We should take a step back and ask ourselves what exactly we mean by growth, and why we think it’s important.”

Breunig shows that “if we divide total hours worked by total population, the US has actually increased work hours on a per-person basis since 1970.”

“Over this period, US hours worked per capita increased by 52 hours, or 7%. For comparison, Finland’s hours worked per capita decreased by 225 hours, or 23%.”

“The main reason for the difference [in work hours] is that Nordic workers simply cut their hours by a much greater magnitude than US workers.”

“In an ideal world, discussions of ideal work levels would be detached from discussions of unemployment, growth, and distribution. But in our narrow political frame, all of these things are mushed together, and tend towards the view that we must have more work hours to solve all the other stuff. This, of course, isn’t true. You can reduce overall work hours (through longer vacations and more paid leave) while reducing unemployment, increasing GDP/hour, and even boosting the incomes of the poor and working classes (despite reducing work hours) by increasing transfer incomes. Yet, because of market income fetishism and simplistic discussions of GDP growth, we don’t seem to have the political imagination to even consider such a program.”

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