One should, perhaps, not take everything the Skidelskys say at face value.

They note that the nations with the longest working hours – the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy, in the graph of OECD nations they publish in the book – are those with the greatest inequality.

For they manage to entirely miss the implication of unpaid household production: they measure only paid working hours.

When you add paid and unpaid working hours together then the picture really does change. For example, the average German woman works more hours than the average American one. Many fewer in the market, many more in the home.

What the UK and US (dunno about Italy) are doing is that more work in the market, where we can all take part in the division and specialisation of labour, and less work in the home, where we cannot. The standard outcome of which would be a higher standard of living for the same hours of work: for each hour will be more productive where we can take part in that division and specialisation.

And that\’s what\’s wrong with ignoring domestic production hours: when you do include them you get a completely different result. Those places with more market working hours also tend to have more leisure hours…..which is the true measure of not working hours.

6 thoughts on “Oh dear”

  1. Surreptitious Evil

    I’m also not sure that he is being comprehensive when he tells us:

    Four possible conclusions could be drawn.

    Your point that the source might be bollocks is a perfectly rational alternate, as is the obvious one that the Monbiot analysis might be tripe.

    I’m very doubtful that the first option – which he attributes to the hated neo-liberals – is true. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a powerful motivator – but, for a significant number of people, Donald Trump (to pick an easy example) is a figure of ridicule not an inspiration.

    The second option, that people are desperate, has to do with poverty not inequality. Okay, it will be relative to your social expectations – having to shop at Lidl rather than Waitrose may be hardship to the Islingtonians but would be luxury to the remaining starving peasantry around the world.

  2. Curious how this may relate to a recent discussion about diet. The UK & the US are adjudged to have poor diets. And cooking is indeed work. So if the women of our two nations do less work in the kitchen, the result is crap food.
    Total bollocks… probably.

  3. “When you add paid and unpaid working hours together then the picture really does change. For example, the average German woman works more hours than the average American one. Many fewer in the market, many more in the home.”

    Citation needed. Link?

    Tim adds: Haven’t a link handy. But it comes out of time use data in the Luxembourg Income Study thingy, LIS.

  4. TheJollyGreenMan

    So we are back to income inequality, the Gini coefficient, so favoured by Mussolini and other fascist goose-stepping dictators.

    When will they get it into their heads that absolute poverty, the threshold of going hungry now and again, is the only true measure that counts. The rest is up to hard work. If you work harder, smarter and longer you do expect to be better off than a slob lounging around watching day-time TV.

    The Gini coefficient, the measure of envy and jealousy, for useless Social and Political studies graduates who thinks the world owes them a living.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *