theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Living

October 18, 2012

Why working harder doesn't make you richer

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Working too hard has societal costs as well. Nearly two decades ago, Harvard University professor Robert Putnam warned that the "social capital" of the United States was decaying as Americans spent less time with family, friends, neighbors and community organizations and more time "bowling alone." Over the last quarter of the 20th century, Putnam recorded a 58 percent decline in attendance at club meetings and a 43 percent drop in family dinners. He blames television and commuting for much of the decline. But note also that the hyperactive U.S. worker put in over 20 percent more hours at the office than the average French worker in 2011. All that extra parental time at home might be why French kids are so much better behaved — rather than greater parental neglect, as suggested by the recent U.S. parenting hit "Bringing Up Bébé."

But if long hours aren't the secret to rapid growth and high employment, the reverse does appear to be true. As countries get richer, their citizens work less: Since the mid-20th century, average annual working hours have declined across the Western world. In the United States, however, the decline has been less dramatic.

So maybe it's time for you Yanks to relax a bit more. Take a full week off for Thanksgiving (as opposed to trying to sneak off on a Wednesday afternoon), or do like the French and take August off next year. It'll make the country healthier, happier — and maybe one day even as rich as Canada.

---

Kenny is senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, and author, most recently, of "Getting Better."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Living
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Stocks
Poll

Who do you blame more for the trouble in Gaza?

The Israelis
Hamas
     View Results