The Thirty-five Hour Working Week: Flexibilité, compétitivité, productivité-a French Revolution

Alan Kirman

Published: June 2000

The introduction of a reduced working week (RWW) in France has been widely condemned as an arbitrary additional constraint in an already rigid labour market. This article explores the origins of the law, and the reasons for the negative appreciation by economists of this measure. However, it goes on to suggest that the concessions gained by the employers in terms of flexibility coupled with the state aid involved have resulted in an increase in labour market flexibility in France. This may explain the fact that, contrary to the predictions of many economists, the French economy is now growing faster rather than slower as compared to the period before the introduction of the legislation, and that unemployment is falling.

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