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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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Author Info

  • Jeremy Atack

    (Vanderbilt Univ & NBER)

  • Fred Bateman

    (University of Georgia)

  • Robert A. Margo

    (Vanderbilt Univ, NBER & Levy Econ Inst)

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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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mac/papers/0012/0012003.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 0012003.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 22 Dec 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0012003

Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 26; figures: included
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Claudia Goldin & Kenneth Sokoloff, 1981. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," UCLA Economics Working Papers 220, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2002. "Part-Year Operation In Nineteenth-Century American Manufacturing: Evidence From The 1870 And 1880 Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(03), pages 792-809, September.
  6. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1970. "Capacity, Overtime, and Empirical Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 23-27, May.
  7. Dora L. Costa, 1998. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," NBER Working Papers 6504, 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, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
  10. Barzel, Yoram, 1973. "The Determination of Daily Hours and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 220-38, May.
  11. 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.
  12. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 1990. "How Long Was the Workday in 1880?," NBER Historical Working Papers 0015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Atack, Jeremy, 1977. "Returns to scale in antebellum United States manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 337-359, November.
  14. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 1991. "Whom Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence From 1880," NBER Historical Working Papers 0033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  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. Domenech, Jordi, 2007. "Working hours in the European periphery: The length of the working day in Spain, 1885-1920," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 469-486, July.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, vol. 42(4), pages 586-598, October.
  7. 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.
  8. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2008. "Steam power, establishment size, and labor productivity growth in nineteenth century American manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 185-198, April.
  9. 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, vol. 44(4), pages 538-567, October.
  10. 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.
  11. Michael Huberman, 2002. "Working Hours of the World Unite? New International Evidence on Worktime, 1870-1900," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-77, CIRANO.
  12. Joyce Burnette, 2011. "The Emergence of Wage Discrimination in U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 11-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. Murray, John E. & Keith, Kristen, 2004. "Male-female earnings differentials in early 20th century Manila," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 361-376, October.

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