Home / In the news / Theos in the media

Britain has fallen into the productivity trap

Britain has fallen into the productivity trap

We can measure it, but does it measure us? Madeleine Pennington writes on productivity for The New European. 13/09/2023

“Britain has a productivity problem. For much of the 20th century, productivity rose markedly across the west as emerging technologies and better education drove more efficient work. As the economist Silvana Tenreyro notes, in the decades before the financial crisis, productivity grew at such a rate that the average worker in 2007 was producing twice as much “value” per hour as their counterpart 30 years previously.

In theory, higher productivity offers liberation for our personal lives, as we work more efficiently but for fewer hours, freeing up the rest of our diaries for leisure, volunteering, relationships, and rest. John Maynard Keynes predicted we would work 15 hours a week by 2030, so high would productivity rise.

Why, then, has productivity growth not brought these things? Material living standards have improved drastically over the last 50 years, but this didn’t create a fairer, happier, or more sustainable society; if anything, it has led to the opposite.”

Read the full article here.


Interested in this? Share it on social media. Join our monthly e–newsletter to keep up to date with our latest research and events. And check out our Supporter Programme to find out how you can help our work.

 Image by The New European

Madeleine Pennington

Madeleine Pennington

Madeleine is Head of Research at Theos. She holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Oxford, and previously worked as a research scholar at a retreat and education centre in Philadelphia. She is the author of ‘The Christian Quaker: George Keith and the Keithian Controversy’ (Brill: 2019), ‘Quakers, Christ and the Enlightenment’ (OUP, 2021), ‘The Church and Social Cohesion: Connecting Communities and Serving People’ (Theos, 2020), and ‘Cohesive Societies: Faith and Belief’ (British Academy, 2020). Outside of Theos, she sits on the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations.

Watch, listen to or read more from Madeleine Pennington

Posted 13 September 2023


See all

In the news

See all


See all

Get regular email updates on our latest research and events.

Please confirm your subscription in the email we have sent you.

Want to keep up to date with the latest news, reports, blogs and events from Theos? Get updates direct to your inbox once or twice a month.

Thank you for signing up.