You might think that a universal 20-hour workweek would stifle the economy rather than boost it, but that's exactly what a U.K. think tank will propose in London on Wednesday. The New Economics Foundation will appear at the London School of Economics to argue for an abridged workweek to lower unemployment levels, according to The Guardian.
"Are we just living to work, and working to earn, and earning to consume? There's no evidence that if you have shorter working hours as the norm, you have a less successful economy: quite the reverse," said NEF representative Anna Coote, who used the Netherlands and Germany as examples of economies that have done well with shorter workweeks.
Keynesian economist Robert Skidelsky is also in favor of a shortened workweek, albeit for a slightly different reason: job scarcity due to technological change. "The civilized answer should be work-sharing," he said. "The government should legislate a maximum working week."
The Guardian article also points out that most economists used to think that technological advancement would cause our workweeks to be shorter due to increased employee productivity. We know now, though, that the opposite has happened.
I'll be watching this story closely, as its implications on work-life balance are compelling. Do you think a government-mandated shorter workweek would boost the U.S. economy?
[Many thanks to my dear friend Bianca Bartz for tweeting this link.]