More Money Equals Less Work, Unless You’re an American

Christopher Ingraham: “The American work ethic can basically be boiled down to one well-worn phrase: “Work hard, play hard.” But new research from a pair of Stanford University economists suggests we are failing, miserably, at the latter half of that maxim.”

“As countries get wealthier, their annual hours worked per capita tend to decrease, at least in the sample examined here by economists Charles Jones and Peter Klenow. They measure GDP in fractions of U.S. GDP, because they’re most interested in how other countries stack up to the United States in terms of economic well-being. For instance, Russia’s GDP per capita is less than half of that in the United States, so it lands halfway down the chart’s X axis.”

“We didn’t trade our productivity gains for more time, we traded them instead for more stuff.”

“The Stanford economists make the latest contribution to the genre with their measure that “combines data on consumption, leisure, inequality, and mortality.” They find that when you throw these other qualities into the mix, the economic well-being gap between the United States and other wealthy countries shrinks — but it doesn’t disappear completely.”

1 Comment

  1. Part of the problem is the lack of public health care in the US. Since employers provide health cover, it is cheaper for them to hire one worker and force them to work 16-hour days, than to hire two workers and have them each work 8-hour days.

    Companies in other countries don’t have this incentive towards forcing longer hours.

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