You know, that essay saying we should all be working 4 hours a day by now? The question is, why aren\’t we?
When my grandmother was growing up in the 1920s, the average woman spent about 30 hours a week preparing food and cleaning up. By the 1950s, when she was raising her family, that number had fallen to about 20 hours a week. Now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, women average just 5.5 hours—and those who are employed, like me, spend less than 4.4 hours a week.
Actually, we are.
Or at least the hours of labour have fallen dramatically, the hours of leisure risen so.
The bit that Keynes left out (not unusually for a man of his time and class, I would be amazed if his inter-war household had fewer than three servants in it) was domestic labour.
Both the domestic labour done by women and that done by servants. Even mens\’ domestic labour has declined, although not so sharply. And we have substituted market labour for that domestic labour….in part. The rise in lesiure time is that we\’ve substituted market work for only some of that no longer extant domestic, taking some of the time as leisure.
Now to detail: is there anyone out there who actually knows what the size of Keynes\’ household was? Cook, housemaid, general dogsbody? Or valet, butler and all?
Or even some good resources on the general set ups of midle and upper class households in the inter war years? Might be fun to have a more detailed look at this…..unless there\’s a pointer to someone who has already done so?