The Four Day Week: Economic, Wellbeing and Climate Impacts


In 1938, the US Congress enshrined a five day workweek, and that schedule spread to other wealthy countries. In the ensuing eighty-five years, there has been no serious effort to reduce the number of days worked each week. However, the pandemic sparked a movement for a four day week, in the US and globally. The pandemic raised stress and burnout levels for workers around the world, leading some employers to offer shorter hours as a way to address worker ill-being and the successes of remote work led to more openness to change. The emergence of AI is another catalyzing factor. There are now multiple governments around the world that are piloting or seriously considering four day week experiments. Since early 2022, Dr. Schor has been the lead researcher on trials of companies who are giving their workers one day off with no loss in pay. Their research shows large improvements in employee well-being, as well as very positive results for companies in terms of performance, retention and hiring. In this talk, she will discuss the movement to reduce hours and our findings, and offer reflections on the future of this phenomenon.


Speaker's Short Intro.

Juliet Schor is an economist and sociologist at Boston College. Schor’s research focuses on work, consumption, and climate change. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women's Studies. 


Schor's most recent project is researching trials of companies who are implementing four day workweeks. Since the beginning of 2022 these trials, organized by the non-profit 4 Day Week Global  ( have been ongoing. With colleagues, including Professor Wen Fan of the Sociology Department, the research team is collecting data on employee health and well-being, organizational outcomes, and carbon emissions.


Since 2011 Schor has also been studying the “sharing” and “gig” economies. Her most recent book—a collaboration with a team of seven PhD students—is After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back (2020), which won the Porchlight Management and Workplace Culture Book of the Year. Schor and her collaborators have written more than twenty-five articles and chapters on this topic. She is also working on the environmental impacts of Airbnb with colleagues from Northeastern and Fairfield Universities, funded by the Internet Society and Sloan Foundations.