Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work

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This book is written in support of proposals to reduce work time in order to improve employment opportunities. The authors, both of whom have been deeply involved in shorter workweek policy debates, argue that the failure of the U.S. to enact shorter workweek legislation when it was first proposed in the late 1950s was a significant policy mistake. They argue further that reduced work hours are an effective means to full employment, improved income distribution, and a stronger consumer market--in addition to promising a better life to the contemporary American family. Policymakers concerned with employment issues as well as trade union officials and students of industrial relations will find here a new framework of ideas to support the renewed consideration of shorter workweek legislation. The authors approach their subject by analyzing the consequences of the U.S. rejection of shorter workweek proposals over the past 30 years. Among them, they contend, are an increasing polarization of incomes, the devotion of more and more resources to the support of economic waste, and a continuing problem with unemployment. The current preoccupation with dollar-denominated growth (a legacy from the Great Depression) has produced a debt-ridden system which increasingly fails to accomodate people's real needs: hence, the authors call for a nonfinancial analysis of economic questions. Taken as a whole, this volume offers both an eloquent defense of leisure and a cogent analysis of the beneficial economic effects of the institution of a shorter workweek or longer annual vacation.