Why We Work

Century Lives

May 11 2022 • 30 mins


Why do Americans work so much - more than their counterparts in almost every other developed country - and with the pandemic sparking a national crisis of purpose, how can we redefine our work/life balance to be healthier?   Americans spend more than 90,000 hours working over a lifetime - 10% more than our Canadian neighbors and 25% more than workers in Germany. How did this happen, why did our national assumptions and beliefs around work crash during the pandemic and what can we do to create a different work/life balance that's healthier? In our second episode of the season, we dive into America's history to understand how this work ethic emerged and why it is suddenly undergoing unprecedented change. From the Puritans to Horatio Alger, we navigate the cultural phenomena leading us to modern day. We also examine the decline in economic mobility that challenged this national mindset, and how we can now build different yet viable relationships with work. Guests are David Blustein, Boston University; Jared Rubin, Chapman University; and Aaron Benanav, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin.