Is cognitive load a factor in community decline?

This is spec­u­la­tion; I had the thought and then ran in to trou­ble dis­en­tan­gling the ques­tion I am try­ing to an­swer from other re­search on a differ­ent ques­tion, and also the sources I know about are not con­ve­niently available to me. Ideally I can ei­ther get a swift nega­tion or a line on the right kind of re­search to look at from here.

From here I get the no­tion that more effort is re­quired per hour of work than was the case in the past. It’s very long, but here’s the part that piqued my in­ter­est:

So labour pro­duc­tivity growth in tex­tiles came from a com­bi­na­tion of “speed-up” and “stretch-out”, which is equiv­a­lent to “labour in­ten­sifi­ca­tion” — mak­ing each worker ex­ert more effort for ev­ery hour of work.
Clark (1987) notes that over the course of the 19th cen­tury the av­er­age Lan­cashire op­er­a­tive roughly dou­bled the num­ber of ma­chines tended, even as the speed of ma­chines also in­creased. This higher work­load makes it “un­safe to in­fer that the in­crease in out­put per worker re­sulted solely from tech­ni­cal progress”.
That view is pow­er­fully sup­ported by Bessen (2012), who es­ti­mates ap­prox­i­mately 14 of the 50-fold in­crease in cloth out­put per worker-hour be­tween 1800 and 1900 was due to each weaver sim­ply op­er­at­ing more looms than they had done ini­tially. That’s re­ally big. But if you cut off the ini­tial quan­tum leap from the hand loom (1800) to the power loom (1819) and con­sider only the mechanised era af­ter 1819, the share of the pro­duc­tivity growth due to greater ex­er­tion of effort is even big­ger more than 60% !

From this Kathy Sierra talk I saw some months ago, I get the no­tion of to­tal cog­ni­tive re­sources used dur­ing work. Com­bin­ing these two sug­gests to me that the to­tal cog­ni­tive re­sources used on the job have in­creased over time.

Fi­nally I have been won­der­ing about the de­cline of com­mu­nity in the United States these last few weeks. Refer­ring to Put­nam, it seems this has been pretty con­sis­tent since ~1965.

So what I am won­der­ing is: did we cross some thresh­old around 1965 where the de­mands of work ate up the all cog­ni­tive re­sources we had available, so none were left for work­ing in/​on our com­mu­nity?

In pseu­do­eras­mus’ post the term “la­bor in­ten­sifi­ca­tion” is used, but when I search for vari­a­tions on la­bor in­ten­sity/​ifi­ca­tion, mostly what I get is the ra­tio of la­bor ex­pen­di­tures to cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures. I also don’t have ac­cess to Ben­son’s pa­per, and while I am pre­pared to go around that lack of ac­cess I wanted to see if there was a pub­li­cly available body of work to check first.