In France, Considering a Longer Workweek


France recently pushed its retirement age from sixty to sixty-two; there is already pressure on the left to move it back to sixty. With people increasingly living into their eighties and nineties, a low birth rate, and shrinking numbers of workers, the math clearly doesn’t add up. “The French model is not sustainable,” Zylberberg said.

With unemployment rising in France, public opinion has gradually shifted on this and similar issues. In the mid-aughts, fifty-seven per cent of French people said they would prefer to have more leisure time than more money. Today, the percentage of those saying that they would give up more leisure for more money is growing, especially among the young. Perhaps that’s one reason that some of the people who are protesting the store closures include workers themselves, who, on Sundays, would prefer the cash to leisure time.

Alexander Stille has a really great post in The New Yorker looking at the French approach to labor (working fewer hours in exchange for more leisure/family time) and the American approach to labor (24/7 capitalism) and why the current state of the French economy may push its citizens to work longer hours (in France, shops are barred from being open on Sundays, and some businesses are rebelling against that).

Photo: zoetnet

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2 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#22)

Never understood the no-Sundays thing. As though working on a Sunday for overtime is never useful to an employee.

annev17 (#4,822)

@deepomega When I used to work in a grocery store (in Europe), the employees (through means of an union) refused to have the store open on Sundays. Sunday was a day of rest, family obligations, etc to them, and they much preferred having this one set day off vs. working a Sunday, being off a weekday. This was pre-recession though, so I don’t know if their opinion has changed since then.

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