Are We Really Working that Hard?

Citylab: “The Transportationist blog points us to data showing the long decline of annual work hours among developed Western nations. CityLab charted a handful of the labor-hour trajectories below. The trends are remarkably consistent across countries: people have been working less and less since the Industrial Revolution, with total hours falling from around 3000 a year toward the 1500-1800 range:”

“The natural assumption here is that if we could extend the year axis to the left, back toward Medieval times, we’d see work hours rise even more. But that’s not necessary true. In her book The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, sociologist Juliet Schor writes that people “did not work very long hours at all” in the pre-capitalist era.”

“Recent research tracking the non-linear link between hours and output sets the tipping point at about 50 hours a week. As the Economist points out in its write up, that means working 70 hours isn’t much better than putting in 56.”

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  • CJR

    I think it’s very important to look a WHO is working all the hours and WHY they’re working that number of hours.
    A large number of people who are working part time jobs when they WANT to work full time is an issue. A number of salaried employees who are working 60-70+ hours a week because their employer doesn’t have to pay them overtime is another issue.

  • CJR

    I think it’s very important to look a WHO is working all the hours and WHY they’re working that number of hours.
    A large number of people who are working part time jobs when they WANT to work full time is an issue. A number of salaried employees who are working 60-70+ hours a week because their employer doesn’t have to pay them overtime is another issue.

    • embo66

      True enough. The only caveat about part-timers is that many of them have more than one job just to make ends meet, meaning they often put in over 40 hours a week.

    • embo66

      True enough. The only caveat about part-timers is that many of them have more than one job just to make ends meet, meaning they often put in over 40 hours a week.

  • IndieRepub

    It’s also important to look at the US graph. We’re working more than 1940, while other countries are down over 20%.

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