Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Britons Don’t Have The Longest Working Hours In Europe – Don’t Be Silly

If we want to try to change the world it’s probably a good idea for us to know how it works already. You know, so that we can both work out whether we want to change it and also ponder through which lever to pull in order to gain the desired alteration.

This being something that is near never done when considering working hours. Because the fools will just keep on looking at the hours done working for The Man and not actual working hours. Work is work, work being not leisure and not personal time. What matters is those hours of work, not particularly how they’re divided between working for pay and working to keep the household going.

This thus is just the wrong starting point for any discussion on working hours:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]UK employees have the longest working week compared to other workers in the European Union.[/perfectpullquote]

No, they don’t. For a start, the information being quoted is this:

Full time working hours

Note the qualifications. This is only among those who work full time, the difference is largely trivial anyway etc. The same paper gives us this:

EU working hours

That makes logical sense – poorer people work more hours. Richer people take some of their greater wealth in more leisure.

But even that’s not good enough. Because working hours are not those just spent for The Man. The feminists wouldn’t be complaining about having to do the washing up if it were. We need to add unpaid household labour in order to gain our proper measure:

Household working hours

Household hours and market such are imperfect substitutes for each other. As Ed Prescott gained the Nobel for pointing out the imperfection of the substitution comes from – at least partly – the tax wedge taken off market paid work and not unpaid household.

The claim that Britons work more hours than other Europeans is simply drivel. Thus all analysis which starts from the assumption is going to be wrong, isn’t it?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Shainaz Firfiray
Associate Professor of Organisation and Human Resource Management, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick[/perfectpullquote]

We’re overdue a certain culling of academia, aren’t we?

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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
2 years ago

People work (average) 200 hours unpaid a week??? That can’t be right, there’s only 168 hours in the week. Is that a graph of per month?
If it is – 40-ish hours a week unpaid work on top of 40-ish hours a week paid work? What are they doing? It takes me five minutes to load the washing machine and five minutes to unload it, half an hour going around with the vacuum cleaner. Are they counting eating food, washing and crapping as “unpaid work”?

Mohave Greenie
Mohave Greenie
2 years ago

I wish the unpaid labor was as easy as this. You have shopping for food, preparing the food and cleaning up after the food. Cleaning bathrooms. Home maintenance. Yard work if you have one of those. Auto maintenance if you have one of those. Pet maintenance if you have those. Paying bills, taxes etc. Other honey dos as assigned.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
2 years ago
Reply to  Mohave Greenie

Yes, I was trying to think of “chores” that I have to commit time to compared with my great-grandmother, and realistically it almost nothing.
I’d say that pet maintenance is non-chores, it’s leisure/hobby activity, something you’ve chosen to do. Cleaning the bath, having a crap, brushing my teeth, buying food is something I have to do. One day I’ll have to do some actual data gathering. Would sleep count as “chores”? It’s something that certainly gets in the way of me doing stuff I want to do.

timworstall
timworstall
2 years ago

That’s “personal time”. Stuff other people can’t do for you. Sure, they can help you have a shower, but they can’t have your shower for you. Nor eat, nor sleep for you.

So there are four time groups. Market work, household work, personal time, leisure.

Mohave Greenie
Mohave Greenie
2 years ago

I’m still looking for my robot butler/cook/maid/gardener. 🙂

David Moore
David Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Mohave Greenie

“You have shopping for food, preparing the food and cleaning up after the food. Cleaning bathrooms. Home maintenance. Yard work ” This is missing an important point, many of these activities are discretionary. You don’t have to spend hours a week on yard work. There is a simple truth in the claim that ‘women do more unpaid labour than men’, and that’s that women like doing it. They like cleaning, so they chose to do it. I don’t do yard work because it’s a waste of my time. Nor do I ever iron anything. They are, for the most part,… Read more »

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