Changing Our Calendar Could Save Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

Changing Our Calendar Could Save Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

At least according to Richard Conn Henry it could. Our current Gregorian calendar has been widely adopted and in use since the 1500’s, so why change it? He goes on to argue about the time that is lost due to the annual need to change schedules (he is a Professor) and date information on course materials.

The cost of this to the economy, from loss of my services in more worthwhile endeavors, is about $500 a year. Multiply that by 200 professors and you get $100,000 a year. Multiply that by 1,000 schools and colleges around the world and you get $100 million per year lost.

So, by extrapolating his income and the time it takes to revise his schedule he finds a loss of $100 million across the world simply because our calendar is constantly changing. That is certainly interesting, and I wonder how in real-world terms it would have an effect. So if it takes Henry a day or two to revise his schedule, what would he do during those times instead to make up for the money that was “lost”?

On the larger scale of business he makes another argument for the money and time lost due to changing schedules:

All businesses and institutions lose productive time this way. Think of the rescheduling involved in professional sports. The total cost of this inefficiency to the economy may be small in percentage terms, but it is enormous in absolute terms.

I begin to see some of the benefits that could come from a standardized calendar. The professional sports (not to mention high-school, college and amateur sports) analogy does make sense. This is big business and scheduling is at the root of creating a successful spectator experience. Being aware of holidays, travel constraints, potential TV ratings and much more is all required in producing an optimal schedule that generates the most revenue.

When it comes to business in general you have a lot of time being spent in human resources planning the holiday schedule. Depending on what day certain holidays fall on it can create significantly different work weeks from year to year. This leads to scheduling issues with people taking vacation days and it may mean the company adds a floating holiday. Then you have the issue with payroll, at least those who pay bi-weekly. Some years have 26 pay periods, some wind up with 27. January 1st may not be the actual first day of a pay period and the schedule is constantly changing from year to year. This has to have some sort of accounting cost associated with it.

What would a new calendar look like?

Henry proposes a calendar that is simply one day shorter than our current calendar bringing the number of days to 364 which is divisible by 7 equally. There is a problem though. The Earth does not revolve around the sun at an even number which is why we have leap years. So to address this a “leap week” would be added every five or six years and ask that employers make it a paid holiday week to compensate for having both Christmas and New Year’s Day annually fall on Sundays.

Personally I have mixed feelings regarding this idea. On one hand I do see that there could be some sort of economic benefit in creating a more standardized calendar, to what dollar amount I’m not sure. I also think that having a more regular system in place would simplify our already complicated lives just a little.

On the other hand this is a major proposal and it certainly wouldn’t come without tremendous opposition and complaining. Because of this I would wonder if the time and money spent trying to push this change would be better spent elsewhere. Who knows, they did change Daylight Saving Time this year citing the economic benefits of doing so. If that can get through, who knows, maybe we have an argument for a new calendar as well.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

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