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France profonde

The strain of the 35-hour week

By Tim King   February 2004

It is a typically French dilemma: is money more important than l’art de vivre? For many Prospect readers I suspect the answer is simple – lifestyle depends on income and if one of them has to be put on hold, let it be lifestyle. That is why the French social experiment, which celebrated its fourth birthday in January, was so bold: more leisure time in return for a freeze in wages. Coming out of the 1970s and 1980s, when annually increasing income seemed the ticket to a better life, France showed yet again its determination to stand out from the…

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