Researcher advocates a 25-hour working week – until the age of 80

Shorter days and longer careers lead to more leisure time and a healthier old age, professor says

Professor James Vaupel of the University of Southern Denmark says that no-one should work more than 25 hours per week, but that we should keep working until the age of 80.

“We’re getting older and older here in Denmark. Kids who are ten years old today should be able to work until the age of 80,” Vaupel told website Science Nordic. “In return, they won’t need to work more than 25 hours per week when they become adults.”

Vaupel, a leading scientist in ageing research at the University of Southern Denmark, suggested that what is important is that people put in a certain amount of work, not that they work at a specific point in life.

Shorter working weeks, Vaupel argues, would give young people more time to care for their families, exercise and lead healthier lives.

“The way it is today, young people are slaving their way through work, looking forward to a long retirement,” Vaupel explained. “But why not move that retirement period around a bit so that young people get more valuable time off work?”

Vaupel argued that part-time work later in life would improve the general health of the elderly.

“The benefits are not just psychological because being an active part of society makes people feel good about themselves, but also physically, since you use both your brain and your body when you’re working.”

Vaupel believed that the public would embrace the idea of shorter hours and would even be willing to work into old age.

“We know that elderly people are prepared to continue working if they’re capable of doing so,” he said. “And I’m guessing that young people would prefer to work less while they’re young if they have the option of working more when they get older.”

Vaupel heads the recently-opened Max Planck Odense Centre on the Biodemography of Ageing, a research centre that focuses on links between improved health and life expectancy. (JH)