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Hours Worked: Long-Run Trends

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  • Jeremy Greenwood
  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke

Abstract

For 200 years the average number of hours worked per worker declined, both in the market place and at home. Technological progress is the engine of such transformation. Three mechanisms are stressed: (i) The rise in real wages and its corresponding wealth effect; (ii) The enhanced value of time off from work, due to the advent of time-using leisure goods; (iii) The reduced need for housework, due to the introduction of time-saving appliances. These mechanisms are incorporated into a model of household production. The notion of Edgeworth-Pareto complementarity/substitutability is key to the analysis. Numerical examples link theory and data. This note has been prepared for The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition, edited by Lawrence E. Blume and Steven N. Durlauf (London: Palgrave Macmillan).

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11629.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11629

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  1. Karen A. Kopecky, 2011. "The Trend In Retirement," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 287-316, 05.
  2. Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "A Century of Labor-Leisure Distortions," NBER Working Papers 8774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2002. "Engines of Liberation," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 2, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  4. Greenwood, Jeremy & Seshadri, Ananth, 2005. "Technological Progress and Economic Transformation," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 19, pages 1225-1273 Elsevier.
  5. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2006. "Measuring trends in leisure," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Staff Report 321, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Williamson Jeffrey G., 1995. "The Evolution of Global Labor Markets since 1830: Background Evidence and Hypotheses," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 141-196, April.
  8. Dora L. Costa, 1997. "Less of a Luxury: The Rise of Recreation since 1888," NBER Working Papers 6054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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