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Working More? Working Less? What Do Canadian Workers Prefer?


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  • Drolet, Marie Morissette, Rene
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    Faced with high unemployment rates, an unequal distribution of worktime, and shifts to temporary, part-time and contract employment, Canadian workers may prefer to change their work hours. Using data from the Survey of Work Arrangements of 1995, we find that two thirds of Canadian workers are satisfied with their work hours. The majority of workers who are not satisfied would prefer more hours for more pay rather than fewer hours for less pay. This finding is robust as it holds for each age group, education level, seniority level, industrial and occupational group. Workers most likely to want more work hours are generally young, have low levels of education, have little seniority, hold temporary jobs, work short hours and are employed in low-skill occupations. Workers who are the most likely to desire a shorter work week are professionals, managers, and natural and social science workers, have high hourly wage rates, possess high levels of education, have long job tenure, occupy permanent jobs and already work long hours. Calculations based on the Survey on Work Reduction of 1985 suggest that if Canadian workers were to voluntarily reduce their work week, the number of work hours available for redistribution would unlikely be sufficient to both eliminate underemployment and reduce unemployment. The potential for work time redistribution, as measured by the propensity to desire fewer hours, appears to be greatest (lowest) in age-education groups with relatively low (high) unemployment rates. This implies that the resulting decrease in unemployment and underemployment could be more pronounced in groups where workers are already relatively successful.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 1997104e.

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    Date of creation: 13 May 1997
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    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1997104e

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    Keywords: Labour; Employment and unemployment; Wages; salaries and other earnings; Hours of work and work arrangements;


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    1. Morissette, Rene, 1995. "Why Has Inequality in Weekly Earnings Increased in Canada?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995080e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1988. "The Effects of Hours Constraints on Labor Supply Estimates," NBER Working Papers 2647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lanoie, P. & Raymond, F. & Shearer, B., 1996. "Work Sharing and Productivity: Evidence from Firm Level Data," Papers 9619, Laval - Recherche en Politique Economique.
    4. Gordon Cleveland & Morley Gunderson & Douglas Hyatt, 1996. "Child Care Costs and the Employment Decision of Women: Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 132-51, February.
    5. William T. Dickens & Shelly J. Lundberg, 1985. "Hours Restrictions and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 1638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Orley Ashenfelter & James Heckman, 1971. "The Estimation of Income and Substitution Effects in a Model of Family Labor Supply," Working Papers 402, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. Shulamit B. Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1995. "The Causes of Hours Constraints: Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 914-28, November.
    8. Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1987. "Constraints on the Choice of Work Hours: Agency vs. Specific-Capital," NBER Working Papers 2238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Lanoie, Paul & Raymond, François & Shearer, Bruce, 1996. "Work Sharing and Productivity: Evidence from Firm Level Data," Cahiers de recherche 9619, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
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    Cited by:
    1. repec:ese:iserwp:2001-06 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Yaz Terajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Cesaire Meh, 2008. "Aggregate and Welfare Effects of Redistribution of Wealth Under Inflation and Price-Level Targeting," 2008 Meeting Papers 381, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Nadia Steiber, 2008. ""How Many Hours Would you Want to Work a Week?": Job Quality and the Omitted Variables Bias in Labour Supply Models," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 121, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Francis Green & Nicholas Tsitsianis, 2004. "Can the Changing Nature of Jobs Account for National Trends in Job Satisfaction?," Studies in Economics 0406, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
    5. RenÈ B–heim & Mark P. Taylor, 2003. "Option Or Obligation? The Determinants Of Labour Supply Preferences In Britain," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 71(2), pages 113-131, 03.
    6. Heisz, Andrew Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien, 2003. "Working Hours in Canada and the United States," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2003209e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    7. René Böheim & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "Actual and Preferred Working Hours," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 149-166, 03.


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