Which countries work most and hardest?

What is actually happening to hours of work? An article by US economist Juliet Schor, in the book Time on our Side published by the New Economics Foundation, provides the answer. Schor gathered data on hours of work over the last 60 years from seven developed countries:

Image

Image

Thus, average weekly working hours per worker vary substantially, and working hours have fallen substantially in all seven countries since 1950.

The data on productivity ((the amount of economic output per hour worked) is also fascinating. Since 1950, productivity has grown significantly in all the countries. The benefits of productivity increases can show up in working hour reductions (or, alternatively, in wage increases, price reductions or profit increases). But the countries have taken a highly varying proportion of their productivity gains in the form of reduced working hours:

Image

Further, the countries whose working hours have decreased more consistently have a higher percentage of their productivity gain taken as a decrease in working hours.

So, a reduction in current working hours would continue, rather than reverse, the current trend. And the variation in productivity gain taken as working hour reduction between countries demonstrates that doing so is a political, rather than economic, choice.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s