Isn’t it amazing to have a whole day, one day out of 7 devoted to leisure? This is unique in the Judeo-Christian tradition, in fact among all “people of the book.”
The Roman merchants used to make fun of Jewish traders, who rested and so did not compete in the marketplace for one day out of every 7.
But in fact, increasing the work week, for instance to 48 hours, as in the United States during World War II, leads to an increase in accidents.
A work week much longer than 40 hours “result in stress-related health problems, on the large scale, as well as a drought of leisure. Furthermore, children are likely to receive less attention from overworked parents, and childrearing is likely to be subjectively worse. The exact ways in which excessive workweeks affect culture, public health, and education are debated, but the existence of such a danger is undisputed.” http://www.associatepublisher.com/e/w/wo/working_time.htm
Annual hours over eight centuries
|Type of worker||Annual hours>|
|13th century||Adult male peasant, U.K.||1620 hours|
|14th century||Casual laborer, U.K.||1440 hours|
|Middle ages||English worker||2309 hours|
|1400-1600||Farmer-miner, adult male, U.K.||1980 hours|
|1840||Average worker, U.K.||3105-3588 hours|
|1850||Average worker, U.S.||3150-3650 hours|
|1987||Average worker, U.S.||1949 hours|
|1988||Manufacturing workers, U.K.||1856 hours|
|2000||Average worker, Germany||1362 hours|
(Compiled by Juliet B. Schor from various sources; Germany figure from OECD data)