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Shirking or Productive Schmoozing: Wages and the Allocation of Time at Work


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  • Daniel S. Hamermesh


Major strands of recent macroeconomic theory hinge on the relation of workers' efforts to their wages, but there has been no direct general evidence on this relation. This study uses data from household surveys for 1975 and 1981 that include detailed time diaries to examine how changes in the use of time on the job affect wages. Additional time spent by the average worker relaxing at work has no impact on earnings (and is presumably unproductive). Additional on-the- job leisure does raise earnings of workers whose break time is very short. Only among union workers, for whom additional leisure time (in unscheduled breaks only) appears productive, does this pattern differ. The results suggest that further growth in on-the-job leisure will reduce productivity (output per hour paid-for), that monitoring workers can yield returns to the firm, but that entirely eliminating breaks is counterproductive.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2800.

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Date of creation: Apr 1990
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Publication status: published as Hamesmesh, Daniel S. "Shirking or Productive Schmoozing: Wages and the Allocation of Time at Work." Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 121-133, (February 1990).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2800

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Cited by:
  1. James R. Spletzer & Katharine G. Abraham & Jay C. Stewart, 1999. "Why Do Different Wage Series Tell Different Stories?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 34-39, May.
  2. David L. Dickinson, 2006. "Work effort effects in the classical labor supply model," Working Papers, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University 06-13, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  3. Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2010. "Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?," NBER Chapters, in: Labor in the New Economy, pages 343-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Derek C. Jones & Srecko Goic, 2010. "Do Innovative Workplace Practices Foster Mutual Gains? Evidence From Croatia," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp993, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  5. Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2009. "Comparing Hours per Job in the CPS and the ATUS," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 191-195, August.
  6. Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade, 2007. "Sorting in the Labor Market: Do Gregarious Workers Flock to Interactive Jobs?," NBER Working Papers 13032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sang-Hyop Lee, 2005. "Generalists and Specialists, Ability and Earnings," Working Papers, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics 200502, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  8. Robert Tuttle & Michael Garr, 2009. "Self-Employment, Work–Family Fit and Mental Health Among Female Workers," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 282-292, September.
  9. Fidan Ana Kurtulus, 2011. "What Types of Diversity Benefit Workers? Empirical Evidence on the Effects of Co-Worker Dissimilarity on the Performance of Employees," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2011-11, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  10. Daniel Hamermesh, 2009. "It’s Time to “Do Economics” with Time-Use Data," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 65-68, August.
  11. Earle, John S. & Sakova, Zuzana, 1999. "Entrepreneurship from Scratch: Lessons on the Entry Decision into Self-Employment from Transition Economies," IZA Discussion Papers 79, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).


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