Policy ForumDemographics

Toward a 24-Hour Economy

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1778-1779
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1778

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Two-fifths of all employed Americans work mostly during the evenings or nights, on rotating shifts, or on weekends. This article discusses why the widespread prevalence of nonstandard schedules has come about, predicts further growth in the near future, and argues that the movement toward a 24-hour economy is significantly altering the nature and stability of family life. The need for policymakers and scholars to take a more realistic view of the temporal nature of family life is stressed, citing as an example the incongruent fit between the hours of child care availablility and the hours of employment among less-educated mothers.