Limiting the work week to 40 hours isn’t just organized labor’s most important historic win. It also prevents an early death for working people.
According to a new global study conducted by the World Health Organization together with the International Labour Organization, people working 55 or more hours a week have a 35% higher risk of dying from a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those who work 35 to 40 hours a week. The study found the greatest health burden from overwork is in men and workers who are middle-age or older.
Researchers reviewed dozens of studies on heart disease and stroke and analyzed working hour data from 194 countries. They estimated that in 2016, 488 million people (8.9% of the world’s population) were exposed to long working hours of over 55 hours a week. Less than 5% of the U.S. population is exposed to that many work hours. Researchers estimated that 745,194 deaths from heart disease and stroke were attributable to overwork that year.