Discussion on work-life balance

In: Uncategorized

9 Feb 2007

Nico Macdonald has provided a useful summary of a discussion on work-life balance on yesterday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme:

“New research claims that it is getting harder to manage a work life balance.” On need for more support for working couples with children, and for carers. Discussion with Jenny Watson, Chair Equal Opportunities Commission, and Mark Easton, home editor, BBC News. Easton: “There is a… more radical answer, which is that we could all do less… work less, commute less, move around less, Yes, we could earn a bit less… What the economists point out is that we can actually choose to work a three day week in this country, and we would _still_ have a standard of living far in excess of our grandparents… There are choices here we _do_ have… but are reluctant to take… Instead of spending more and more of our weekends in the office, so that we can pay for that giant mortgage and that new mobile phone, we could I suppose spend more time with our kids… The pressures in a society like ours to have the right stuff and to keep up with the Jones’s… are very significant.” Easton also celebrates Southern European extended families, which feature childcare by the ‘younger old’ and family care for the ‘older old’.”

Of course Easton is right to argue that individuals can make the choice of taking a cut in income in return for working fewer hours. But from a social perspective it is economic growth, and the accompanying rise in productivity, that has enabled a dramatic fall in working hours over the long-term.