In 1870 the average European worked 66 hours/week. In the US, we averaged 62. By 1929 the European and American work weeks were pretty much the same: Europeans worked 47.8 hours/week, and Americans 48. But by 2000, according to an article in The Economist magazine, Americans had pulled ahead, working 4 hours more per week.
As the article cites, those extra hours don’t necessarily lead to increased productivity. A 2013 study pointed to a negative correlation between productivity and hours worked. Long hours, other studies suggest, lead to exhaustion, poor focus, health problems, and decreased productivity.
Employers – who in the U.S. largely dictate these terms – are supposedly trying to increase productivity in order to compete in global markets. So why are they pushing long hours?
- The Economist: Americans need to take a break