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Hours of Work No Longer Declining and the Climate May Pay the Price

Summary:
As countries develop, they face a choice: cash in on productivity gains as increased income or to enjoy increased leisure. That leisure means not only shorter workdays or a shorter workweek, but also longer vacations, more paid holidays, paid family and medical leave, and other time off. Choosing the latter, reducing annual work hours, is ...

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As countries develop, they face a choice: cash in on productivity gains as increased income or to enjoy increased leisure. That leisure means not only shorter workdays or a shorter workweek, but also longer vacations, more paid holidays, paid family and medical leave, and other time off. Choosing the latter, reducing annual work hours, is better for the climate than favoring long work hours and a high-consumption economy.

Over the last 36 years, productivity, measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per hour of work,  has doubled in the United States. Over the same period, however, the total number of hours per worker has hardly budged.

It has not always been this way.

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