According to a paper by an economist, David Rosnick, at the Center for Economic and Policy Research...
As productivity grows in high-income, as well as developing countries, social choices will be made as to how much of the productivity gains will be taken in the form of higher consumption levels versus fewer work hours. In the last few decades, for example, western European countries have significantly reduced work hours (through shorter weekly hours and increased vacation time) while the United States has not.
This paper estimates the impact on climate change of reducing work hours over the rest of the century by an annual average of 0.5 percent. It finds that such a change in work hours would eliminate about one-quarter to one-half of the global warming that is not already locked in (i.e. warming that would be caused by 1990 levels of greenhouse gas concentrations already in the atmosphere).
In the US, we no longer grow to conquer poverty or to protect ourselves from the unpredictable forces of nature. We only grow just to grow. Or, more sadder yet, we grow for the rich. But here is a curious thing: American productivity might actually improve if Americans worked less.
Europeans on average pocket almost 10 more vacation days than their U.S. counterparts. That's the findings from research by consultants at Mercer, which analyzed the minimum number of vacation days that companies across Europe must provide to staff with 10 years' service, as well as the number of national holidays in each country.
The study reveals the average time off in European Union countries is now 34.4 days, compared with just 25 in the U.S. Overall, employees in Lithuania are entitled to the greatest amount of paid leave, with 41 holidays per year. France and Finland come a close second, with 40.
Conflicting DataAmericans may take less vacation, but are they really more efficient than their European colleagues? Figures from the World Economic Forum certainly show the U.S. remains the world's most competitive country. Yet other data, including countries' GDP per hours worked, reveal Europe still gives America a run for its money. That means many parts of the Old World are at least as productive as the U.S., if not more, with the added bonus of up to eight weeks off a year.
But if working less could actually improve or at least produce the same levels of productivity, and this really should come as no surprise, why are Americans so sold on the necessity of hard work? This is where the ongoing destruction of social safety nets makes the most sense. Without this protection, work becomes a tool for discipline and control. We are not working to build the economy or the future, we are working because we fear the culturally manufactured void beneath us.