What Does Science Say About The American Work Week?

A Cambridge University study analyzed the employment patterns of 5,000 people over 12 months, and suffice it to say the results were…interesting. Politicians have long been dogged by the question “Is the American work week too long?” According to this new study, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” Americans typically work more than 40 hours per week, while many Europeans work an average of 35. 

Lead researcher Brendan Burchell said, “We had assumed that the maximum levels of wellbeing would be among those working three or four days a week.”

What did the team find? The happiest study participants worked only one day per week.

Other research had suggested that failing to work one full day a week had a detrimental effect on overall mental health. This current study suggests that one day is all that is required, and certainly enough to reap “the benefits of employment in terms of mental wellbeing and happiness.”

Perhaps the future is looking bright. Many futurists have been pushing for a universal basic income (UBI) to offset the coming job displacements that will be spurred by artificial intelligence. Maybe there will be more positions but for fewer jobs — and we won’t need to work more than a day. Just kidding, that’s liberal socialist utopian poppycock talk…Or is it?

Another study surveyed nearly 20,000 new mothers and pregnant women to find that nearly three-quarters of them “were forced to work fewer hours because of childcare issues.”

The original study is the reason that Chancellor Rishi Sunak revised the country’s furlough policy to provide government funding even for those who were only working part-time. By the way, the “one day a week” finding showed that even part-time workers and furloughed workers are happiest working that little. Needless to say, science is about a body of research studies and not just one. Peer review is important, so we’ll be waiting to see what other scientists have to say.