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The Response of Wages and Actual Hours Worked to the Reduction of Standard Hours in Germany

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  • Jennifer Hunt

Abstract

A transformation of what had become a universal 40-hour standard working week in Germany began in 1985 with reductions negotiated in the metal-working and printing sectors. These reductions have continued through 1995, and were followed by reductions in other sectors. The union campaign aimed to increase employment through ‘work-sharing’, and is being emulated in the United States with the launch of a reduced hours campaign by the AFL-CIO. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, I find that increased overtime or reduced short time was little used to offset the reduction in standard hours: a one-hour reduction in standard hours appears to have translated into a reduction in actual hours worked of between 0.85 and 1 hour for workers in manufacturing. One might expect this to have resulted in a loss of earnings for workers in affected industries. I substantiate the union’s claim of ‘full wage compensation’, however: reductions in standard hours were accompanied by a relative rise in the hourly straight-time wage of 2–3% for each hour fall in standard hours; enough to keep monthly earnings the same as in unaffected industries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 138.

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Length: 37 S+Tab. p.
Date of creation: 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp138

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Cited by:
  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Stephen J. Trejo, 2000. "The Demand for Hours of Labor: Direct Evidence from California," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 38-47, February.
  2. Kapteyn, A. & Kalwij, A.S. & Zaidi, M.A., 2000. "The Myth of Worksharing," Discussion Paper 2000-23, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Marimon, Ramon & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1999. "Employment and Distributional Effects of Restricting Working Time," CEPR Discussion Papers 2127, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Baek, Ehung Gi & Oh, Wankeun, 2004. "The short-run production effect of the reduction of working hours," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 123-144, January.
  5. Arie Kapteyn, 2000. "The Myth of Worksharing," Economics Series Working Papers 32, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Victoria Osuna & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Implementing the 35 Hour Workweek by Means of Overtime Taxation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 179-206, January.
  7. Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Has Work-Sharing Worked In Germany?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 117-148, February.
  8. Axel Börsch-Supan, 2002. "Reduction of Working Time: Does it Decrease Unemployment?," MEA discussion paper series 02003, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

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