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Constraints on the Desired Hours of Work of British Men


  • Stewart, Mark B
  • Swaffield, Joanna K


This paper investigates constraints on desired hours of work using information on hours preferences from the British Household Panel Survey for 1991. Over a third of male manual workers would prefer to work fewer hours at the prevailing wage than they do and the authors estimate that, on average, desired hours per week are 4.3 hours lower than actual hours. They hypothesise that job security and scarcity of alternative job opportunities enable employers to set hours constraints above employee preferences and find that the minimum hours constraints set by firms are an increasing function of the unemployment rate an individual faces. Copyright 1997 by Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Stewart, Mark B & Swaffield, Joanna K, 1997. "Constraints on the Desired Hours of Work of British Men," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 520-535, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:107:y:1997:i:441:p:520-35

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Easley & Nicholas M. Kiefer & Uri Possen, 1985. "An Equilibrium Analysis of Optimal Unemployment Insurance and Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(Supplemen), pages 989-1010.
    2. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-261, March.
    3. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1992. "Fair wages, involuntary unemployment and tax policies in the simple general equilibrium model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 299-320, April.
    4. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    5. Yaari, Menahem E., 1976. "A law of large numbers in the theory of consumer's choice under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 202-217, April.
    6. J. J. McCall, 1970. "Economics of Information and Job Search," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(1), pages 113-126.
    7. Peter A. Diamond, 1982. "Wage Determination and Efficiency in Search Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 217-227.
    8. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
    9. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1986. " Payroll-Tax Financed Social Insurance with Variable Retirement," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 25-50.
    10. Besley, Timothy, 1990. "Means Testing versus Universal Provision in Poverty Alleviation Programmes," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(225), pages 119-129, February.
    11. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • C24 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Truncated and Censored Models; Switching Regression Models; Threshold Regression Models


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