Could scaling up time currencies reduce working time, enlarge participatory democracy and redistribute wealth?

Bruno Théret

IRISSO, CNRS – Université Paris Dauphine, PSL Research University, Email:

In this article we present a proposal of a scaled-up time bank and currency at the national level. The aim of such a time currency managed by the State (or any regional public power) would be to link a legal reduction of work time in the market sphere to the development of an active – participatory – citizenship, and a reduction of economic inequalities through a redistribution of wealth. Paradoxically, we spend much of our lives working in order to finance through taxes political and administrative activities that we could for the most part exercise ourselves, yet from which we are excluded because of the rationing of disposable political time and the liberal-bureaucratic constitution of the state. The proposal starts from the idea that taxes paid for by additional work in a capitalist economy can be at least partially replaced by transferring work hours from market to civic activities. It entails that the reduction of work time should be seen not only as a way to reduce unemployment in the market sphere, but also as a political device allowing the development of participatory democracy through the payment of taxes “in kind”, i.e. in hours of political and administrative activities. Moreover, the value of these activities could be recognized by a national time bank or treasury issuing a time currency which would be required in order to pay a democratically determined share of the tax burden. This device would be all the more interesting in that it would not necessarily imply lower salaries or re-investable profit. All that would be required is that reduced work hours be matched by tax cuts accompanied by corresponding cuts in public spending. The latter, in turn, would be offset by increased civic involvement in political activity and public services. The impact of this transfer of time on economic inequalities could be overwhelming but would depend on the tariff of national time currency in the legal tender market currency.

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To cite this article: Bruno Théret (2018) ‘How scaled up time currencies could be used in order to reduce work time, enlarge participatory democracy and redistribute wealth’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 2018 Volume 22 (Winter) 50-59 <>ISSN 1325-9547. DOI: