Spreading The Work Around

Laura Entis can’t decide if the proposals of Danish Professor James Vaupel are “crazy or brilliant”:

The 40-hour work week is an outdated model, according to [the] head of the new Danish Max Planck research center. Instead, he argues, we should only work 25 hours a week–but keep working until we’re octogenarians. … Spreading out working hours over the full course of a person’s life, Vaupel argues, is both psychologically and physically beneficial at all stages of life.

Vaupel hopes the 21st-century will herald big changes in our working habits:

The important thing is that we all put in a certain amount of work – not at what point in our lives we do it. In the 20th century we had a redistribution of wealth. I believe that in this century, the great redistribution will be in terms of working hours.

Well at some point, something will have to give. Automation, new technology, a new universe of global competition, soaring healthcare costs for the elderly … I’m sure we’ll muddle through somehow. But the global force of these changes, their acceleration, and the generational inequities that are soaring means we will have to adjust at some point – and it will be hard not to do so without reinventing the parameters of work somehow.