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How do long working hours affect people and the economy?
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April 23, 2012
11:20 am
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February 6, 2012
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Although countries with long average working hours are economically successful, this often has some negative social consequences. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In some countries working long hours is regarded the norm. Economic success resulting from long work hours comes at a price for families, people’s health and may contribute to higher unemployment. In my opinion the long term consequences are to grave to ignore and an effort must be made to reduce long working hours.

The most serious effect of working overtime constantly is putting employee’s health at risk and causing illness, early retirement or even premature deaths. When working long hours it is more difficult to maintain a healthy life style, like finding time to exercise and relax. An unhealthy lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stress related illnesses. Being chronically overworked can also cause psychological problems, like burnout, depressions or even suicides. All these health problems can cause high immaterial and material cost to society.

Another problem is the workforce’s limited time for social contacts and families. Long work hours do not make a very family friendly environment. People may find it hard to raise children and work. In particular, women may have to decide against working or having children. Because of long work hours, some employees will not find the time for a relationship or family at all and remain single. Consequently, birthrates are likely to fall, which can for example be observed in Japan. A low birthrate might leave a society with an aging population and results in many hard to solve problems.

Lastly, companies that require longer work hours will employ less people in total. It is obvious, that if people would only work regular hours more people would be employed instead of some people being overworked and other unable to find work. The society has pick up the bill for most of the cost of unemployment and the consequences of people working too much.

In conclusion, I believe that the advantages of long work hours exists only short-term. The negative effects are a burden to society. It would be beneficial if governments and companies understand the long-term cost and limit long work hours to short-term overflow work.

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