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Do we work unnecessarily long hours?

Would it be feasible for all of us to work a lot less, or is the concept a pipe-dream? Some suggest that by working less, we could increase our productivity per hour, and have a happier life. Others suggest that the idea is an economically naive socialist fantasy, and that although people complain about excessive work, it's ultimately a sacrifice people are prepared to make for, amongst other things, material wealth, status, and their children.

Implications to Other Questions

Does relative wealth make us happier than absolute wealth?
Do we work unnecessarily long hours?

Experts and Influencers

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Experts In Philosophy

Friedrich Nietzsche    Iconic Philosopher of 19th Century
Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.
01 Jan 1878    Source

Bertrand Russell    Iconic Philosopher of 20th Century
Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.
01 Jan 1932    Source

Caroline West    Philosophy Professor
In a lovely little 1932 essay, In Praise of Idleness, he wrote: "If the ordinary wage-earner worked four hours a day there would be enough for everybody, and no unemployment – assuming a very moderate amount of sensible organisation." At the time this suggestion met with ridicule, but as the toll of long working hours on individuals, families and communities becomes increasingly apparent, the time for taking Russell’s idea seriously may slowly but surely be arriving.
04 Aug 2009    Source

Experts In Economics

Tim Robinson    Economics Professor
Mostly Disagree
An economically convincing explanation for overwork and loss of work-life balance in contemporary society seems to have eluded researchers. Increases in work effort in recent decades that intuitively seem to be at the heart of the problem may be rational, welfare maximizing responses to changes in factors that determine levels of work effort. Nonetheless, it may still be the case that the absolute level of work effort undertaken by individuals is excessive. The explanation offered here...
01 Jan 2007    Source

Experts In Media

Keith Hammonds    Editor, Fast Company
[Work-life balance] is an unattainable pipe dream. ... For those of us trying desperately to keep up with everything that needs doing, it poses two mythical ideals. If we work hard enough at it, one goes, we can have everything. Or if we cut back, we can have just enough to be truly content. The first obliges us to accomplish too much, often at too high a price; the second doesn't let us accomplish enough.
01 Oct 2004    Source


Add Your TakeOnIt (click to expand, no login required)
0 Points      Nashhinton      20 Apr 2013      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
People should work their asses off. That's what stimulates the economy.

0 Points      MTC      23 Feb 2013      Stance on Question: Agree
Yes. We need less full‐time work, more part‐time work, more jobshares, resulting in more places available for new employees, and less unemployment.