The Myth That Americans are Busier Than Ever
Patricia Thompson stashed this in Random Tidbits
This was surprising, Patricia:
Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker essay "No Time," is built around an old essay and a new book about the future of busy-ness and leisure. The old essay, by the economist John Maynard Keynes, predicted that by the mid-21st century, citizens of advanced economies would scarcely have to work, thanks to technological advancements. The new book, Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, responds to Keynes some 90 years later by explaining just how poorly his prediction has panned out. Instead of having an abundance of time, we are more starved for leisure than ever.
For much of the essay, this premise survives unchallenged. Obviously, we're working more than ever, because it feels like we are. Right?
Actually, no, we're not. As a country, we're working less than we did in the 1960s and 1980s and considerably less than we did in the agrarian-industrial economy when Keynes foresaw a future of leisure. It's not until the end of Kolbert's essay that the reader steals a glimpse of the cold hard statistical truth: Every advanced economy in the world is working considerably fewer hours on average than it used to.
I know! I was surprised too.
Well, it's good perspective. And it helps to make a good attitude.