Working time reduction policy in a sustainable economy: Criteria and options for its design

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reducing per capita consumption, particularly amongst high income groups, is often deemed necessary to reduce the environmental impacts of the global economy. Far from implying a necessary reduction in wellbeing, some research suggests this could actually improve it: as reduced expenditure means a reduced need for income, and hence paid work, then there is the possibility for average working hours to fall, providing increased leisure time in which to pursue happiness through less consumption-intensive, but more time consuming, ways. To date, however, there has been little critical discussion of the details of what policy might need to cover to allow and encourage substantial working time reduction in a way that successfully reconciles these environmental and wellbeing goals. This article addresses this gap in the literature. It begins by reviewing the conditions under which working time reduction could bring environmental and wellbeing benefits. It then presents examples of innovative voluntary working time policies from the Netherlands and Belgium. Drawing these elements together, the article presents a new “green life course approach” for working time policy design. It argues that, as a complement to more conventional working time policies, this could be a valuable tool to combine environmental and wellbeing goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
JournalEcological Economics
Volume103
Early online date4 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014

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