Sustainable Consumption and Worktime Reduction


Sociology Department Boston College McGuinn Hall 519 140 Commonwealth Avenue Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 USA <> <>


This article argues that in the global North a successful path to sustainability will entail a stabilization of consumption through reductions in hours of work, a solution that neither ecologists nor economists have addressed seriously. The article presents data on the slowdown of hours reductions in many countries and discusses the need for policy intervention to counter firm-level disincentives to reducing hours of work. It then discusses the potential popularity of work-hour reductions with consumers. It ends with an argument that technological changes will be insufficient to achieve sustainable consumption patterns and that averting continued increases in the scale of consumption through trading income for time is imperative.