Economists predicted that as we became more prosperous we would choose to work fewer hours. That hasn’t happened. Instead we have kept on working at about the same pace as we did earlier in our history, but have poured all of the gains from productivity growth into ever-higher levels of consumption – bigger houses, more electronic gadgets, fancier cars. With increased prosperity, people are buying more and more stuff, but they don’t have any more time to enjoy it. A reduction in the standard work week would improve the quality of life, especially for those in hourly jobs who have benefitted hardly at all from economic growth in recent decades.
Two-earner couples would also benefit. Among couples between the ages of 25 and 54, the number of hours worked increased by 20 percent between 1969 and 2000, from 56 hours to 67 hours (for both husband and wife combined).
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Time for a shorter work week? | Brookings Institution