This poll is mostly directed toward Americans. I was wondering what you thought about the idea of shortening the 40-hour work week. I think it would be a very positive step for our society. We already work far more hours, on average, than any other developed country in the world. I think that most people (with some exceptions) are happier when they're out doing things they enjoy than when they're working.
Furthermore, reducing the work week would be a good way to help tackle our unemployment problem. If an employer needed a certain number of labor-hours and couldn't get as many labor-hours from each worker, they would need to hire more people. This would reduce unemployment.
As I see it, the main cost of this would fall on employers. They would need to either pay more overtime (if they still wanted to have employees work 40 hours) or hire more people (and incur the associated recruiting/processing/training costs). These costs seem rather small, especially since corporate America is doing quite well. I think that this would be a much more worthwhile cost to impose than, say, a lot of the inefficient corporate taxes to which businesses are subjected.
The free market will not reduce the 40-hour work week on its own; if we think it's desirable to work less than that, it will require some government prodding. The 40-hour work week has been in place since 1950, despite the fact that the American worker of today is vastly more productive than his 1950 counterpart. Furthermore, in most industries, companies have an incentive to work employees as many hours as they can get away with, because it reduces training costs.
But what about the fact that some people already struggle to make ends meet with a 40-hour job? OK, but there are lots of other people in the even worse position of working 0 hours per week because they can't find a job. From a macroeconomic perspective, this is very harmful. It would be far better for our economy to have more people working fewer hours, than to have fewer people working more hours.