Sprawl, Family Rhythms, and the Four-Day Work Week
18 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 1, 2010
We evaluate the four-day work week against the background of other institutional and social practices and constraints. But we fix these other variables when considering the value of this work reform. For example, workers enjoy the commute time and expense savings associated with a four-day week. These savings would mean little if the commutes in question were negligible. Therefore, the value of the four-day work week depends in part on the social history that gave us increasingly substantial commutes. This Article seeks to highlight some of the institutional practices that influence the adoption of a four-day work week, particularly those associated with sprawl. It compares the reform to school districts that operate a four-day school week as a cost-saving measure. School systems choose a four-day week because they are rural and long distances create particularly serious time and transportation costs. This comparison helps to reveal the role sprawl and its impact on commutes plays in the four-day work week reform. In addition, the four-day work week depends on being different from other workplaces for its benefits. The odd hours for commutes are needed to relieve pressure on the roads. The irregular hours for the opening of government offices are effective because they coincide with non-work hours for private sector employees. While new distances may necessitate a four-day work week, irregular, unsynchronized hours come with a cost. Synchronized non-work hours allow communities to share common civic time and allow families to develop social rhythms of non-work time together. The four-day work week reform, which derives its benefit from irregularity, undermines common community and family rhythms.
Keywords: Four-day work week, Sprawl, Family rhythms, travel time, work schedules, urban planning
JEL Classification: K19, K29, K32, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation