The New York Times has an interesting story on the effects of France's shortened work week, which went into effect two years ago. Sez the Times:
To some extent, the logic behind the 35-hour week has been vindicated. Unemployment has dropped to 9 percent since the law went into effect, and the government, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize new jobs, claims some of that reduction is because of the shortened workweek….
But Laure Maillard, an economist with CDC IXIS, a financial firm, argues that the short-term employment and productivity gains will be overtaken by a longer-term drag on corporate profits and government revenues.
"I think it could hurt French competitiveness," she said.
It is already causing problems. Lawyers, for example, say that some of their some of their high-salaried associates are demanding enforcement of the 35-hour rule, and application of the law has been frozen for hotel and restaurant workers because those businesses cannot afford to keep bankers' hours or hire more people.