Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren

June 7, 1930 in Uncategorized


John Maynard Keynes essay form 1930 “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” is perhaps the most well known and most influential text with a 100 year perspective. While there are utopias written about the future Keynes unique approach with a mixture of science and educated guesses have inspired many over the years. One of most famous quotes from the essay is the 15 hour work week with 3 hours five day a week. What is often forgotten is that he thought that even less was needed, but that many would be afraid to not have something they were forced to do.

The fact that technical and economical possibilities exist, but are not realised due to old thinking and structures, is probably even more true today than it was 1930.


As we approach 2030 Keynes almost 100 years old essay is more relevant than ever.


“Yet there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age
of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long
to strive and not to enjoy. It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with
no special talents, to occupy himself, especially if he no longer has roots in the
soil or in custom or in the beloved conventions of a traditional society. To
judge from the behaviour and the achievements of the wealthy classes to-day in
any quarter of the world, the outlook is very depressing! For these are, so to
speak, our advance guard-those who are spying out the promised land for the
rest of us and pitching their camp there. For they have most of them failed
disastrously, so it seems to me-those who have an independent income but no
associations or duties or ties-to solve the problem which has been set them.”


For many ages to come the old Adam will be so strong in us that everybody
will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall do more things for
ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only too glad to have small duties
and tasks and routines. But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread
thin on the butter-to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely
shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the
problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the
old Adam in most of us!


The full essay can be read here.


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