Here are links to two explorations of the same question: why do we work the amount we work? Suw Charman recently reported on a thought-provoking EuroFOO session by Ryan Carson, who has decided as a matter of policy to put his company on a four-day week. Then today Brad DeLong quotes Robert Frank on Keynes having been wrong about wealth and desire, but is left unsatisfied, still wondering “Why 40 hours?” Some of us, of course, have vocations not jobs and are happily writing code and chatting with colleagues and blogging at 11PM. But still... one would like the amount people work to be explicable by rational economics. DeLong doesn’t try, he veers beautifully sideways into Cowboy Economics or rather Junkie Economics; well anyhow, he quotes six verses of a song usually sung by Margo Timmins. Which is a sane way to address a mystery. But if I were going around again, I think I’d be an economist.