Reducing Working Hours as a Means to Foster Low(er)-Carbon Lifestyles? An Exploratory Study on Swiss Employees

Hanbury, Hugo Alexander; Bader, Christoph; Moser, Stephanie (2019). Reducing Working Hours as a Means to Foster Low(er)-Carbon Lifestyles? An Exploratory Study on Swiss Employees. Sustainability, 11(7), pp. 2024-2041. MDPI 10.3390/su11072024

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In the ongoing discussions on the transition to low-carbon systems a reduction of working
hours has gained increased interest. A shift to lower incomes coupled with more discretionary time might promote low(er) individual carbon lifestyles without impairing individual well-being. Lower carbon emissions have been linked to shorter working hours on a macroeconomic level and to lower income, and thus less carbon-intensive activities on an individual level. However, little empirical research has been done on the effects of a self-determined reduction of working time on an intra-individual level. The aim of this paper was to explore whether and how a reduction of working hours facilitates low(er)-carbon lifestyles. We do this by means of 17 qualitative guideline interviews with Swiss employees that had recently reduced their working hours. Our results suggest that the underlying motives behind the employees’ decisions to reduce their working hours are crucial. A beneficial climate-saving effect arose only for those employees who dedicated their newly
gained time to binding activities, that require a certain degree of commitment, such as parenting and further education. In contrast, those who reduced their working hours due to a desire for more recreational time risked increasing the carbon intensity of their lifestyles due to carbon-intensive leisure activities.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Hanbury, Hugo Alexander, Bader, Christoph, Moser, Stephanie






[1008] Zeit als neuer Wohlstand: Reduktion der Erwerbsarbeitszeit zur Förderung suffizienter Lebensstile
[804] Socio-Economic Transition




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

26 Jun 2019 12:27

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:28

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

low-carbon lifestyles; working time reduction; part-time work; income; discretionary time




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