Global Threat to Work/Life Balance


The 2008 Managing People in a Changing World, a report that PricewaterhouseCoopers publishes every two years, analyzes key global issues and trends in human capital.

One trend is that the debate around work/life balance has intensified since the last report in 2006.

According to PwC’s 2007 survey, Managing Tomorrow’s People: The Future of Work to 2020, 75% of “millennial” graduates from the U.S., China and the U.K. think that workplace flexibility will not exist and that they will be working formal office hours.

Some countries with strong work/life balance policies, especially in Western Europe, are questioning whether their policies are compatible with competitive business performance and are feeling pressure from Brazil, Russia, India, China and Central and Eastern Europe, which have lower human capital costs and less established work/life policies.

However, there may still be evidence that limited working hours, employment protection rights, maternity and paternity leave, and minimum wage legislation are still worth the investment.

According to the report, South Korea, which has a typical workweek of 44 hours or more, 34% longer than in the U.S., had a GDP growth per hour of –0.81% in the 2005–2006 period. GDP per hour grew 1.86% in the U.S. in the same period.

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers,


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