The governor of the Bank of England has pointed out that Britain’s recorded economic growth in the second quarter of 2012 will be depressed by the plethora of bank holidays. Within three months there is a four-day weekend for Easter, a May day break and another four-day weekend to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee. ….
We will have nine bank holidays this year, including one extra for the jubilee. Although what is meant by a public holiday varies from country to country and within regions of many countries, 10 to 12 is about the international norm. But still the question remains. In this time of austerity, would it not be a good thing if we all agreed to forgo some leisure? We could surely relinquish New Year’s day and Easter Monday for the benefit of the economy? ….
[W]e could raise GDP [gross domestic product] further by cancelling Christmas (though we would lose the expenditure on unwanted gifts), taking shorter vacations (though think of the impact on easyJet), and by working till we drop from exhaustion. But why would we want to? The idea that there is something called “the economy”, which is separable from the welfare of society and its citizens, is silly. There isn’t. What really matters is whether the holiday, and the celebration, makes us better off. That question answers itself without need of economic statistics.
John Kay, “Scrap the jubilee? Why not Christmas too?”, Financial Times, 30 May 2012.
Past columns are posted here.