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Weekly Updates

  • In 1930, the British economist Keynes predicted that by 2030 people could be working 15 hours per week. The typical economist’s work week is definitely not 15 hours. But as is so often the case with economists, Keynes was right—you just have to tweak the definitions a bit.
  • Over the past 100 years, the amount of time dedicated to unpaid work like household chores has fallen significantly. This unpaid work was just never registered in the GDP-obsessed world of output economics. Today robots vacuum our houses, machines wash our clothes, and food preparation has been outsourced via UberEats. Applying a broader definition to include unpaid labor as “work” makes Keynes’ prediction more realistic.
  • Measuring work is growing problem. Of the multiple jobs that I do, only my UBS economist is recognized in the employment data. My employment as a farmer, author (latest book still widely available), or charity adviser goes unrecorded—although the tax authorities do get to know about the other roles.
  • Economies that are successfully adapting to the fourth industrial revolution, with flexible working and “side hustles” of additional income streams, run the risk of being negatively judged using the outdated data metrics of Keynes’ world. Successful flexibility may appear as a GDP failure.

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