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The Exchange

Why Americans Can't Find Better Balance Between Work And Life

Lyanne Guarecuco

A recent survey shows Americans rank finding balance between our jobs and lives beyond work as a top priority, but that overall we’re doing a poor job achieving that.  We’re looking at this conundrum, and exploring the notion that perhaps we do in fact have more leisure time than we think, especially compared with earlier eras.

This show is a rebroadcast that originally aired on 9/3/14.



  • Derek Thompson – senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.


  • Work-Life Balance Data for the United States from OECD: "Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge that all workers face. Families are particularly affected."
  • Derek Thompson's piece about whether we are actually busier: "As a country, we're working less than we did in the 1960s and 1980s and considerably less than we did in the agrarian-industrial economy when Keynes foresaw a future of leisure. It's not until the end of Kolbert's essay that the reader steals a glimpse of the cold hard statistical truth: Every advanced economy in the world is working considerably fewer hours on average than it used to."
  • Brigid Schulte on 'work martyrs': "About 40 percent said they don’t take vacation because they worry about returning to a mountain of work. Thirty-five percent said they don’t leave because they feel no one else can do their job. One-third said they couldn’t afford to use their paid time off and one-fifth said they didn’t want to be seen as replaceable."
  • NPR's interview with Brigid Schulte about 'Overwhelmed', including an excerpt: "One of the main differences is women are still doing so much of the housework and the child care. ... There's physical labor that goes along with that, but there's also mental labor. You're keeping track of everything, you know? You've got all this stuff going on in your mind: the to-do lists, and "Did I remember the carpool?" and "Oh, my goodness, I gotta fill out the Girl Scout forms," ... all this stuff that kind of gets crowded in there along with all the stuff you've got to do at work. Men generally don't have that. They have one sphere, which is work."

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