Why You’re Working Too Hard

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Capital Ideas is now Chicago Booth Review but unfortunately original articles are no longer available. If you click through you will be taken to the Internet Archive site to find an archived copy.

We have become much more productive—output per hour worked increased more than fourfold between 1950 and 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the amount we work hasn’t fallen anywhere near as fast. In the United States, the average working year went from 1,963 hours in 1950 to 1,790 hours last year, a drop of less than 10%.

This has prompted some people to wonder, is it time for people to work less? Psychologists are asking a related question: are people overearning, and compromising their happiness in the process? Research suggests the answer to that second question is yes.

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