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不玩命工作还能干啥 The lost leisure time of our lives

来源:上元教育   【上元教育:技能改变命运,上元成就未来】   2016/3/18 9:42:39
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Three hours a day is quite enough,” wrote John Maynard Keynes in his 1930 essay Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren. The essay continues to tantalise its readers today, thanks in part to a forecast that is looking magnificently right — that in advanced economies people could be up to eight times better off in 2030 than in 1930 — coupled with a forecast that is looking spectacularly wrong, that we would be working 15-hour weeks.

约翰•梅纳德•凯恩斯(John Maynard Keynes)曾在1930年的一篇短文《我们子孙后代的经济可能性》(Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren)中写道:“每天3小时就足够了。”这篇短文现在仍吸引着读者,部分原因是一项看上去极其正确的预测:到2030年,发达经济体国民的富裕程度可能会达到1930年的8倍,还有一项看上去极其错误的预测:我们将每周工作15小时。

In 2008, economists Lorenzo Pecchi and Gustavo Piga edited a book in which celebrated economists pondered Keynes’s essay. One contributor, Benjamin Friedman of Harvard University, has recently revisited the question of what Keynes got wrong, and produced a thought-provoking answer.

2008年,经济学家洛伦佐•佩基(Lorenzo Pecchi)和古斯塔沃•皮加(Gustavo Piga)编辑了一本书,在书中,一些知名经济学家对凯恩斯的这篇短文进行了探讨。撰稿人之一、哈佛大学(Harvard University)教授本杰明•弗里德曼(Benjamin Friedman)最近重新提到了凯恩斯预测错的那个问题,并提出了一个发人深省的答案。

First, it is worth teasing out the nature and extent of Keynes’s error. He was right to predict that we would be working less. We enter the workforce later, after long and not-always-arduous courses of study. We enjoy longer retirements. The work week itself is getting shorter. In non-agricultural employment in the US, the week was 69 hours in 1830 — the equivalent of working 11 hours a day but only three hours on Sundays. By 1930, a full-time work week was 47 hours; each decade, American workers were working two hours less every week.

首先,我们有必要探究一下凯恩斯错误的性质和程度。他预测我们的工作时间将变少,这是对的。如今的人们在经过漫长(且不总是勤奋)的学习后才进入职场。我们享受着更长的退休阶段。每周工作时间在缩短。1830年,在美国非农业部门,人们每周工作69小时,相当于每天工作11个小时,只是周日工作3小时。到1930年,全职员工的每周工作时间为47小时;每10年,美国劳动者每周的工作时间会减少两小时。

But Keynes overestimated how rapidly and for how long that trend would continue. By 1970 the work week was down to 39 hours. If the work week had continued to shrink, we would be working 30-hour weeks by now, and perhaps 25-hour weeks by 2030. But by around 1970, the slacking-off stopped. Why?

但凯恩斯高估了这一趋势持续的速度和时间。到1970年,每周工作时间降至39小时。如果每周工作时间继续减少的话,我们现在的每周工作时间将达到30个小时,到2030年将达到25个小时。但是,到了1970年前后,这种缩减趋势停止了。为什么呢?

One natural response is that people are never satisfied: perhaps their desire to consume can be inflamed by advertisers; perhaps it is just that one must always have a better car, a sharper suit, and a more tasteful kitchen than the neighbours. Since the neighbours are also getting richer, nothing about this process allows anyone to take time off.

一个自然的回应是人们永远不会感到满足:或许广告商们燃起了他们的消费欲望;或许只是因为人们永远希望拥有比邻居更好的车、更抢眼的西装以及更有品位的厨房。由于邻居们也在变得更富有,因此这个过程不允许任何人休息。

No doubt there is much in this. But Friedman takes a different angle. Rather than asking how Keynes could have been so right about income but so wrong about leisure, Friedman points out that Keynes might not have been quite so on the mark about income as we usually assume. For while the US economy grew briskly until the crisis of 2007, median household incomes started stagnating long before then — around 1970, in fact.

确实,这很有道理。但弗里德曼有着不同的视角。他没有问凯恩斯为何猜对了收入却猜错了人们的休闲时间,而是指出,凯恩斯对于收入的看法可能不像我们通常认为的那样正确。尽管在2007年金融危机之前,美国经济增长不俗,但家庭收入中值早在那之前就开始停滞了,实际上是在1970年前后。

The gap between the growth of the economy and the growth of median household incomes is explained by a patchwork of factors, including a change in the nature of households themselves, with more income being diverted to healthcare costs, and an increasing share of income accruing to the highest earners. In short, perhaps progress towards the 15-hour work week has stalled because the typical US household’s income has stalled too. Household incomes started to stagnate at the same time as the work week stopped shrinking.

一些形形色色的因素可以解释经济增速与家庭收入中值增速之间的差距,包括家庭本身性质的变化,更多收入转向医疗成本,收入最高者在总收入中所占份额越来越高。简言之,朝着每周15小时工作制发展的过程之所以停滞,或许是因为美国典型家庭的收入也陷入停滞。家庭收入开始停滞的同时,每周工作时间停止缩短。

This idea makes good sense but it does not explain what is happening to higher earners. Since their incomes have