Over the past twenty–five years the introduction of labor–saving technologies has greatly reduced the average amount ...

on November 5, 2019

Correct Answer E

Hello, I feel like this is a straightforward question/answer, but for some reason, am having a bit of trouble understanding. Would you mind explaining? Thank you!

1 Reply

Irina on November 5, 2019


The question tells us that the average worker output has increased over the years, i.e. the amount of time required to produce a given output. So let's say the average hourly output doubled, where the worker needed 40 hours a week to produce 80 widgets (2 widgets/ hr), but now only needs 20 (4 widgets/hr). The stimulus hypothesizes that the amount of leisure time should increase at the same rate as the amount of hours worked decreases, so for this example - 20 hours worked + 20 hours leisure time. The average amount of leisure time per worker has only increased at half the rate the average hourly output has grown - so instead of 20 hours extra leisure time, an average worker only got 10. What can we infer based on this information?

Let's look at the answer choices:

(A) Workers spend more money on average
Incorrect. The amount of money is irrelevant, the argument is about leisure time vs work time.

(B) Labor saving techniques have resulted in net job loss
Incorrect. The argument is about an average worker, not the overall increase/ decrease in hours worked.

(C) % of the population in the workforce has grown.
incorrect. The argument only concerns averages, not absolute increase in number of workers/ hours worked.

(D) The average output has not risen as much as anticipated.
Incorrect. The argument compares the change in hours worked versus leisure hours, the rate of output change by itself is irrelevant.

(E) 25 years ago the average weekly output was less than it is today.
Correct. Notice how the argument shifts from using weekly measures - number of hours worked per week to average hourly output. The average hourly output might have gone up, but so did the weekly required output. Going back to our original example, the worker needed to produce 80 widgets in an average week 25 years ago, but needs to produce 120 today, meaning that even though the hourly output has gone up from 2 widgets/ hour to 4 widgets/ hour - the total number required per week has gone up as well, so it would take the worker 30 hours a week to produce 120 widgets instead of 20 hours to produce 80 as the argument predicted. Since the average weekly output has gone up, the amount of leisure time has increased at only half the rate at which the HOURLY output has grown.

Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any other questions.