Maybe It’ll Be a 50-hour Workweek in 2030

In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that by 2030, the workweek would shrink to as low as 15 hours. As living standards and wages rose in progressive countries, he suggested, people would choose to work fewer hours and enjoy more leisure time.

Granted, 2030 is still about 16 years off, but it’s probably safe to say that Keynes missed the mark. Though our living standards have risen like he suggested, the workweek in the U.S. has lingered at around 40 hours (though the gap among workers is wide). This has happened despite a lot of evidence — and even real life experiments — showing that a shorter work week leads not only to more satisfied workers, but higher productivity.

The year 1930 was also when the K.W. Kellogg instituted a six-hour workday, and that hasn’t remained—neither will it shrink to what John Maynard Keynes thought it might to by 2030 unless something extraordinarily transforming occurs to the American workforce. There are lots of reasons for this—higher earnings often entice people to work even harder, but also, stagnant incomes haven’t led the way to an opportunity for Americans to work any less. But if we’re going to be real for a moment, those of us who spend some part of the day browsing the internet at work for non-work purposes (me), could probably cut out a little bit earlier—the problem is that we’ve built a working culture that believes that if you leave early, you’re not working hard enough/are not dedicated to your position.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons



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