In the winter of 1928, John Maynard Keynes composed a short essay that took the long view. It was titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” and in it Keynes imagined what the world would look like a century hence. By 2028, he predicted, the “standard of life” in Europe and the United States would be so improved that no one would need to worry about making money. “Our grandchildren,” Keynes reckoned, would work about three hours a day, and even this reduced schedule would represent more labor than was actually necessary.
Since the 1930s, U.S. G.D.P. has grown, in real terms, by a factor of sixteen. Why hasn’t that wealth translated into more leisure time?
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