For the first time in 50 years, the rich are buying more free time.
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One of the weirdest economic stories of the past half century is what happened to rich Americans—and especially rich American men—at work.
In general, poor people work more than wealthy people. This story is consistent across countries (for example, people in Cambodia work much more than people in Switzerland) and across time (for example, Germans in the 1950s worked almost twice as much as they do today).
But starting in the 1980s in the United States, this saga reversed itself. The highest-earning Americans worked longer and longer hours, in defiance of expectations or common sense. The members of this group, who could have bought anything they wanted with their wealth, bought more work. Specifically, from 1980 to 2005, the richest 10 percent of married men increased their work hours by more than any other group of married men: about five hours a week, or 250 hours a year.