Weekly Working Hours decreased 30% in OECD Countries in the past 100 Years

Source: Please visit OurWorldInData for more information. Licensed under CC-BY-SA by the author Max Roser

In the above chart you can see the richest European countries as well as the U.S. and Canada and how the respective weekly working hours – for non-agricultural activities mind you! – declined since 1870. At the end of the 19th century the average person had to work 58-72 hours/week while in 2000 (it may have decreased even more since then!) that number stood at 33-42 hours. Depending on which country you look at, that’s around 30% to 40% less weekly working hours! Also, there are discussions going on here in Austria as well as other countries about the implementation of the 30 hour work week while retaining the full compensation of a 40 hour work week.

In my opinion, this is marvellous and shows how much the quality of life has improved, thanks to increases in economic productivity and other accomplishments I have written about in previous posts. Although this data is of course an estimate of how much people used to work a hundred years ago and doesn’t include all nations, it is still the best guess we have based on scientific data. This – among other issues I have mentioned in this blog – highlights the flawed assumption that back in the good old days everything was better! People are nostalgic when it comes to their past because they have nice memories about a certain time and connect them to certain issues even if they have nothing to do with each other. 

Also, I am sure that this trend of decreasing mandatory(!) work hours will eventually reach all countries and areas of work.

Featured image courtesy of “rawpixel” via Pixabay

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