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Productivity in Manufacturing and the Length of the Working Day: Evidence from the 1880 Census of Manufactures

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  • Jeremy Atack
  • Fred Bateman
  • Robert A. Margo

Abstract

Data from the manuscript census of manufacturing are used to estimate the effects of the length of the working day on output and wages. We find that the elasticity of output with respect to daily hours worked was positive but less than one--implying diminishing returns to increases in working hours. When the annual number of days worked is held constant, the average annual wage is found to be positively related to daily hours worked, but again the elasticity less than 1.0. At the modal value of daily hours (ten hours per day), it appears that from the standpoint of employers, the marginal benefits of a shorter working day (a lower wage bill) were approximately offset by the marginal cost (lower output).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_317.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_317

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References

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  1. Costa, Dora L, 2000. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 156-81, January.
  2. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Rising Wage Dispersion Across American Manufacturing Establishments, 1850-1880," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0036, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  3. Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," Scholarly Articles 2664292, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1984. "Was the Transition from the Artisanal Shop to the Factory Associated with Gains in Efficiency?: Evidence from the U.S. Manufacturing Censuses of 1820 and 1850," UCLA Economics Working Papers 300, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred, 1992. "How Long Was the Workday in 1880?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 129-160, March.
  6. Barry Eichengreen, 1987. "The impact of late nineteenth-century unions on labor earnings and hours: Iowa in 1894," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 40(4), pages 501-515, July.
  7. Ben S. Bernanke, 1985. "Employment, Hours, and Earnings in the Depression: An Analysis of EightManufacturing Industries," NBER Working Papers 1642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Goldin, Claudia, 1988. "Maximum Hours Legislation and Female Employment: A Reassessment," Scholarly Articles 2645471, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
  10. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 1991. "Whom Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence From 1880," NBER Historical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Robert A. Margo, 2001. "Part-Year Operation in Nineteenth Century American Manufacturing: Evidence from the 1870 and 1880 Censuses," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0106, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Mar 2001.
  12. Barzel, Yoram, 1973. "The Determination of Daily Hours and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 220-38, May.
  13. Whaples, Robert, 1990. "Winning the Eight-Hour Day, 1909–1919," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 393-406, June.
  14. Landes, William M. & Solmon, Lewis C., 1972. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation: An Economic Analysis of Law and Social Change in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 54-91, March.
  15. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1970. "Capacity, Overtime, and Empirical Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 23-27, May.
  16. Atack, Jeremy, 1977. "Returns to scale in antebellum United States manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 337-359, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sukkoo Kim, 2005. "Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States?," NBER Working Papers 11206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lonnie Golden, 2009. "A Brief History of Long Work Time and the Contemporary Sources of Overwork," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 217-227, January.
  3. Joyce Burnette, 2011. "The Emergence of Wage Discrimination in U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 11-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Michael Huberman, 2002. "Working Hours of the World Unite? New International Evidence on Worktime, 1870-1900," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-77, CIRANO.
  5. Díaz, Antonia & Echevarria, Cristina, 2009. "Why a fixed workweek?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 790-798, October.
  6. Huberman, Michael & Minns, Chris, 2007. "The times they are not changin': Days and hours of work in Old and New Worlds, 1870-2000," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 538-567, October.
  7. Domenech, Jordi, 2007. "Working hours in the European periphery: The length of the working day in Spain, 1885-1920," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 469-486, July.
  8. Robert A. Margo, 2014. "Economies of Scale in Nineteenth Century American Manufacturing Revisited: A Resolution of the Entrepreneurial Labor Input Problem," NBER Chapters, in: Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Robert Margo, 2006. "Steam Power, Establishment Size, and Labor Productivity Growth in Nineteenth Century American Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 11931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Kim, Sukkoo, 2005. "Industrialization and urbanization: Did the steam engine contribute to the growth of cities in the United States?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 586-598, October.
  11. Murray, John E. & Keith, Kristen, 2004. "Male-female earnings differentials in early 20th century Manila," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 361-376, October.
  12. Susan Averett & Howard Bodenhorn & Justas Staisiunas, 2003. "Unemployment Risk and Compensating Differential in Late-Nineteenth Century New Jersey Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 9977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Kim, Sukkoo, 2004. "Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States?," Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series qt4hd75171, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.

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