Cautionary Tales – When Stalin killed the weekend

22nd December, 2023

What if you could never have the same day off as your friends and family? Would you quit your job? What if it was the murderous dictator Joseph Stalin giving you the order?

The Soviet Union wanted its factories to run every day, all year long. And so in 1929, Stalin killed the weekend: workers were prevented from all taking the same day off at the same time.

In this crossover episode of Cautionary Tales and The Happiness Lab, Tim Harford and Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos tell the story of Stalin’s curious, calendar-reshaping experiment. They explore what it can teach us about time off even today and why the holidays matter so very much.

[Apple] [Spotify] [Stitcher]

Further Reading

Dan Lewis, The Soviet Plan to End the Weekend Now I Know

EG Richards, Mapping Time

Judith Shulevitz Why You Never See Your Friends Any More The Atlantic

Jodi Kantor “As Shifts Vary, Family’s Only Constant Is Chaos” – New York Times 14 August 2014 and Jodi Kantor “Starbucks to Revise Policies to End Irregular Schedules for its 130,000 Baristas” New York Times 15 August 2014

Oliver Burkeman Four Thousand Weeks

Terry Hartig et al. Vacation, Collective Restoration and Mental Health in a Population

Thomas Schelling Micromotives and Macrobehavior

Heather Boushey Finding Time

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