The Future of Work - Investigating the Case for Intervention in Working Time Policy in New Zealand

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper


Despite rapidly rising productivity, the amount of time spent in formal work across most of the developed world remains fairly constant. Employment is maintained through a continual increase in consumption. As global limits are approached or surpassed, growth in consumption in the first world is no longer sustainable, putting future jobs at risk. This thesis evaluates the importance of working time policy in relation to sustainable development, and more specifically, looks at the advantages and disadvantages of a shorter working week in New Zealand. Finding that there is a strong argument in favour of a shorter working week (primarily for environmental and social reasons), as well as justification for state intervention, an investigation is made into the reasons why it is not being implemented. Using theories from political science, a conflict is found between the goals of sustainable development and the deeper held goals of economic growth. On top of this, there is a near complete absence of a ‘policy image’ in the public domain. External socio-economic changes – such as a rise in unemployment, or major energy shortages – are most likely to bring about support for the policy.

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