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Sharing the work in France

French President Francois Mitterrand's plan to cut his country's unemployment rate seemed engagingly simple. If employees worked fewer hours, jobs could be spread among more people. Mitterrand's Socialist administration has thus pared France's 40-hour work week to 39 hours since taking office more than two years ago, and it plans to trim it to 35 hours by 1985. The government has also given the French a fifth week of annual vacation and has lowered the legal retirement age to 60 for workers who have labored 371/2 years.

So far, however, the work-sharing scheme has fallen well short...

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