A NOTE ON LIFETIME DISTRIBUTION OF WORKING TIME
The boundaries of an individual's working life are the age of admission to employment and the age of retirement. In practice, people start work somewhat later than the minimum age (the European average in 1965-70 was 17 years 1 month, and the North American was 18 years 4 months). There is also a varying proportion of people who retire later and some who retire earlier than the pensionable age.
Between these two ages, total working time varies according to the length of the working week, the volume of overtime, the length of rest periods and holidays, the time spent on training or study during the working years, and periods of leave for special reasons (such as maternity).
The current trend within this pattern is towards a less clear-cut division between the formative years, time in employment and the years of retirement, so as to give the individual more scope for finding the best balance between work, further study, leisure and rest.
How large are the amounts of time devoted to each of these, how do they relate to each other and what proportions should they bear to each other? These questions lead on to the idea of a "time budget" applying not merely to each day or week but also to one's whole working life.
One interesting idea arising out of the study of patterns of working time is that of an integrated insurance system replacing the many existing schemes for income maintenance when people are not working. "Drawing rights" under the system would enable people to make use of income maintenance resources productively for study, training, general education, labour education or learning a new job. In addition to allowing lifetime freedom of choice and transfers of income from one period to another so that credit could be given for education before entering employment (for example), the system would also help to even out fluctuations in the economy.1 If looked at from this angle, educational leave becomes an important factor in human resources development and an instrument of employment policy.
Finally, the total number of hours worked in the course of a lifetime might be one of the social indicators, to be read in conjunction with the economic indicators when analysing and evaluating the economic and social position in a country.2
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