America works too much. Half of salaried workers report putting in at least 50 hours a week, and surveys of white collar professionals report even higher figures. Long hours deplete our ability to make good choices and make it harder to fit in a full night of sleep. As a result, workers are less productive, less healthy, even less ethical.
Management seems intent on imposing long hours on workers, regardless of overtime rules, which isn’t surprising given that managers are often working brutal hours themselves. In fact, the cult of overwork is as much cultural as economic. As a paper on overtime in Britain put it, “the overtime premium is essentially the outcome of established custom and practice,” just one more aspect of the labor market that depends, at least in part, on social norms.