For the second year in a row, Beijing is giving workers a long holiday as a means of boosting consumption. Mainland workers today begin a seven-day holiday that the authorities hope will help jump-start the sluggish economy. A similar scheme last year to extend the National Day holiday sparked off a spending spree that helped contribute to the achievement of a 7.1 per cent growth rate. 'Holiday economics' is a novel idea not known to have been tried elsewhere. Obviously, as hordes of holiday-makers go sightseeing, shopping and eating out at restaurants, the spending will translate into higher consumption figures in the national accounts. However, if the tally includes losses in productivity resulting from the idling of plants, equipment and labour, the picture may be different. But Beijing may have done such calculations and found the exercise worthwhile. After all, many countries in the West effectively shut down for more than a week over the Christmas and New Year period every year. In a country where under-employment and unemployment are still a big problem, the benefits of giving the employed a long holiday so that short-term service jobs will be created during the period may outweigh the losses of shutting down the offices. However, grinding the nation to a halt when everywhere else is working may cause problems as the mainland becomes integrated with the world economy. Mainland workers now have seven public holidays a year, compared with 17 in Hong Kong. Instead of declaring long holidays on an ad hoc basis, the mainland should consider having more permanent public holidays.