Wikipedia delivers again, this time with a great overview of working time – from the stone age to today.
A few nuggets from the article:
…early hunter-gatherer societies enjoyed more leisure time than is permitted by capitalist and agrarian societies; For instance, one camp of !Kung Bushmen was estimated to work two-and-a-half days per week, at around 6 hours a day. Aggregated comparisons show that on average the working day was less than five hours.
The automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford, was an ardent proponent of shorter work hours, which he introduced unilaterally in his own factories.
Recent studies supporting a four-day week have shown that reduced work hours not only increase consumption and invigorate the economy
Because of the pressure of working, time is increasingly viewed as a commodity. This trend, as well as the amount of working time being found to affect gender roles, has been notably researched by Sociology professor Dr. Stephen C. Smith. In 2006, the average man employed full-time worked 8.4 hours per work day, and the average woman employed full-time worked 7.7 hours per work day.
Good stuff. There’s loads more – go read the whole thing.