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Commentary :: Labor
Time on our Side by Anna Coote
29 Aug 2017
In her opening essay, Juliet Schor argues that countries in the rich world cannot continue to grow their economies if they are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to sustainable levels. We must face up to a future with little or no economic growth.

Essay summaries
Why we need a shorter working week
The triple dividend

Juliet Schor
How people divide their time between paid work and other activities can make a big difference to their ecological footprint, to rates of unemployment, and to the quality of individual and community life. Current
policies on work and time, based on the relentless pursuit of economic growth, are failing to avert catastrophic damage to the environment. Juliet Schor examines the structural connections between hours of work and
ecological impact, paying attention to the effects of both scale (size of economy) and composition (mix of products produced and consumed). She presents new findings on the impact of working hours on ecological footprints and CO2 emissions across OECD countries, showing how working hours are a powerful lever for reducing eco-impact. She then suggests how to make the transition to a shorter-hours economy, trading productivity growth for time not just money, as people’s preferences adapt to changing circumstances.

In search of the ‘good life’
Robert Skidelsky
Why did Keynes’ 1930s prediction that people today would be richer and work far fewer hours fail to materialise? Robert Skidelsky suggests it’s because more people find work enjoyable and satisfying than in the
past, because many are afraid of unstructured leisure time, and because wages are low and too few think they can afford to work shorter hours.
The promise of consumption and of good things to come keeps people striving for more. If we get off this treadmill to consume, we might reconsider what we mean by the good life. We could then work out how
to structure our institutions to make it easier to live such a life. The basic components of the ‘good life’ include health, security and dignity. The political means of achieving this goal include job sharing, a reduction
in working hours, wealth distribution, changes in taxation and basic income. Overall, there is such a thing as a good life, it can be achieved, but it is not the life that is currently on offer.
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