By Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, June 18, 2019.
More and more jobs are disappearing, as automation and artificial intelligence take on tasks formerly reserved for humans. Since our jobs provide many of us with both structure and purpose, this trend raises a question: What will be lost in a post-work world?
New research provides a somewhat reassuring answer. It finds that people can still enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of employment even if they work as little as a few hours a week.
"We know unemployment is often detrimental to people's well-being, negatively affecting identity, status, time use, and sense of collective purpose," co-author Brendan Burchell, a Cambridge University sociologist, said in announcing the findings. "We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psychosocial benefits of employment—and it's not that much at all."
If work becomes scarce, "we will have to rethink current norms," adds lead author Daiga Kamerade of the University of Salford. "This should include the redistribution of working hours, so everyone can get the mental-health benefits of a job, even if that means we all work much shorter weeks."