Keywords: ecological economics, full employment, steady-state economy, environmental policy, working hours, working time reduction
Work in a growing and in a steady-state economy
Ecological economics has in recent years taken up consumption issues, but not yet, or not to any great extent, issues of work and employment. Yet ecological, consumption and employment issues hang together. Ecological limits, especially in combination with the aim of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality worldwide, make it necessary for rich countries to reduce production and consumption. The attempt to restore 'full employment', in the old sense of 35 plus hours per week, secure jobs for all those who want them, seems doomed to fail, and, more importantly, there is a better alternative. This involves redefining 'full employment' to imply progressively shorter working hours, and redistributing desirable employment and available income, leaving more time for other activities, and opening up the possibility of multiple benefits in a variety of areas.