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Understanding Growth and Inequality Trends: The Role of Labour Supply in the US and Germany

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  • Lars Osberg

Abstract

Between 1980 and 2000, average actual working hours per adult rose by 234 in the United States while falling by 170 in Germany. These trends imply that growth in per capita GDP may be a poor indicator of trends in average economic well-being and that trends in money income inequality may misrepresent trends in the inequality of economic well-being. Is greater inequality in the US the incentive that motivates greater work effort by Americans? Differentials in average usual working hours largely arise from differences in workforce participation -- particularly among women and older men. Except for the extreme lower tail, the distribution of usual working hours of prime age males is essentially identical and constant in Germany and the US -- which implies that the grea ter inequality of earnings in the US has no noticeable incentive effect on the labour supply of workers.

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  • Lars Osberg, 2003. "Understanding Growth and Inequality Trends: The Role of Labour Supply in the US and Germany," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(s1), pages 163-184, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:29:y:2003:i:s1:p:163-184
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Osberg, Lars & Phipps, Shelley, 1993. "Labour Supply with Quantity Constraints: Estimates from a Large Sample of Canadian Workers," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(2), pages 269-291, April.
    2. Bell, Linda A. & Freeman, Richard B., 2001. "The incentive for working hard: explaining hours worked differences in the US and Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 181-202, May.
    3. Ed Diener & Eunkook Suh, 1997. "Measuring Quality Of Life: Economic, Social, And Subjective Indicators," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 189-216, January.
    4. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    5. Linda Bell & Richard Freeman, 1994. "Why Do Americans and Germans Work Different Hours?," NBER Working Papers 4808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto F. Alesina & Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "Work and Leisure in the U.S. and Europe: Why So Different?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 1-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Steffen Otterbach, 2010. "Mismatches Between Actual and Preferred Work Time: Empirical Evidence of Hours Constraints in 21 Countries," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 143-161, June.
    3. Stephen P. Jenkins & Lars Osberg, 2003. "Nobody to Play with?: The Implications of Leisure Coordination," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 368, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Peter Frase & Janet Gornick, 2009. "The Time Divide in Cross-National Perspective: The Work Week, Gender and Education in 17 Countries," LIS Working papers 526, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    5. Merz, Joachim & Osberg, Lars, 2006. "Keeping in Touch – A Benefit of Public Holidays," MPRA Paper 5738, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Hugh Millward & Jamie Spinney, 2009. "Time use and rurality – Canada 2005," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 109-129, September.
    7. Timo Anttila & Tomi Oinas & Jouko Nätti, 2009. "Predictors of time famine among Finnish employees – Work, family or leisure?," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 73-91, September.
    8. Katerina Vrotsou & Kajsa Ellegård & Matthew Cooper, 2009. "Exploring time diaries using semi-automated activity pattern extraction," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 1-25, September.
    9. Heather Boushey & Christian E. Weller, 2006. "Inequality and Household Economic Hardship in the United States of America," Working Papers 18, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    10. Killian Mullan & Lyn Craig, 2009. "Harmonising extended measures of parental childcare in the time-diary surveys of four countries – Proximity versus responsibility," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 48-72, September.
    11. Julian Lamont, 2008. "Incentives and reflective equilibrium in distributive justice debates," The Journal of Philosophical Economics, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Economics, vol. 2(1), pages 5-19, November.
    12. Sajeda Amin & Luciana Suran, 2009. "Terms of marriage and time-use patterns of young wives – Evidence from rural Bangladesh," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 92-108, September.
    13. Sandra L. Hofferth, 2009. "Changes in American children’s time – 1997 to 2003," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 26-47, September.
    14. Joachim Merz & Lars Osberg, 2009. "Keeping in touch – A benefit of public holidays using time use diary data," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 6(1), pages 130-166, September.

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