Anna Coote - 21 hours: a new norm for the working week? | the new economics foundation
How would it feel to wake up on a chilly February morning? More time in bed, more time with the kids, more time to read, see your mum, hang out with friends, repair the guttering, make music, fix lunch, walk in the park. Whatever you need or want to do.
Outlandish? Well, it’s less radical than the vision of John Maynard Keynes. He imagined a 15-hour week by the beginning of the 21st century, because he thought we’d no longer have to work long hours to satisfy our material needs.
His forecast was wrong, not least because our definition of material needs has grossly expanded. In fact, the ‘normal’ working week lengthened in the last decades of the 20th century, with two-adult households adding six hours a week to their combined paid workload. Many of us work longer and harder to earn enough to buy what we need (or think we need), to keep or improve our place in the world, or simply to make ends meet. Meanwhile, others have too little employment, or none at all.