Happy Juneteenth (observed)
The case for more holidays
Juneteenth is the newest celebration on the official calendar of federal holidays, a move that I liked for the symbolism of the day but also because creating more holidays in general is a good idea.
The most important research on this is a 2014 paper from Cristobal Young and Chaeyoon Lim that looks at subjective well-being among unemployed people across the days of the week. The find that the unemployed experience a weekend welfare boost that is almost as large as the welfare boost of the employed, and that they also look forward to the weekend nearly as much. Why? Well, “because social time increases sharply on weekends for both workers and the unemployed.”
In other words, most Americans are fortunate enough to have job-quality high enough that the upside of the weekend isn’t just some kind of mere freedom from toil (in which case the unemployed wouldn’t care) it’s that when everyone has the day off you can hang out with your friends and do things.
One of the core purposes of government is to solve these kind of coordination problems and creating days off is one of the best ways to do that.
So welcome Juneteenth to the list, and I’m interested in everyone’s ideas for what other holidays we could create for the currently holiday-free months. The thing that’s a little trickier, though, is that while there’s no such thing as a holiday when literally nobody goes to work (a hearty thank you to the transportation, emergency services, etc. workers who keep society functioning over Christmas!) we right now have many federal holidays that are pretty weakly observed. We’d do well to find ways to increase the coordination power of days like Juneteenth and Veterans’ Day and get more people to actually have the day off.