Summary of The Golden Age

The 15-hour working week predicted by Keynes may soon be within our grasp – but are we ready for freedom from toil?


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The Golden Age summary
Could technological innovation spark a shift in how society prioritizes the pursuit of profit?


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Humankind lives in a time of immense prosperity, such that “no one need be poor.” Decades of free market liberalism, however, have ensured the continuance of a society ruled by the accumulation of capital and the continuance of inequality – both in income and leisure time. Economics professor John Quiggin argues in favor of a return to Keynesian economic theory, specifically, the pursuit of a society – facilitated by technological innovations – that prioritizes “social need” above “market signals of price and profit.” getAbstract recommends this article to economists and anyone interested in the changing workforce of the 21st century.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-194) argued about leisure
  • How society has changed since Keynes’s time
  • How social priorities must change for Keynes’s vision to become reality


The global Great Recession, which began in 2007, proved the false promises of “free market liberalism.” And indeed, recent renewed interest in the work of English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) indicates society at large may be ready to rethink its worship of the “accumulation of capital.” In 1930, Keynes wrote an essay arguing that technological innovations could “do away with the need to work in order to live.” Such an arrangement would do more than offer “leisure time” to the working class; it would effectively change humankind’s current relationship with the “distribution of wealth and of economic rewards and penalties.”

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About the Author

John Quiggin is an economist, a professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland and is a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian government.

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