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Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.
  • Kawaguchi, Daiji
  • Lee, Jungmin

Abstract

Are workers in modern economies working “too hard”—would they be better off in an equilibrium with fewer work hours? We examine changes in life satisfaction of Japanese and Koreans over a period when hours of work were cut exogenously because employers suddenly faced an overtime penalty effective at lower standard hours. Using repeated cross sections we show that life satisfaction increased relatively among those workers most likely to have been affected by the legislation, with the same finding using Korean longitudinal data. In a household model estimated over the Korean cross-section data we find some evidence that a reduction in the husband's workhours increased his wife's well-being. These results are consistent with the claim that legislated reductions in work hours can increase workers’ utility.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2017. "Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jjieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jjie.2017.02.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Costa-Font, Joan & de Miera Juarez, Belen Saenz, 2018. "Working Times and Overweight: Tight Schedules, Weaker Fitness?," IZA Discussion Papers 11702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. O'Donnell, Gus & Oswald, Andrew J., 2015. "National well-being policy and a weighted approach to human feelings," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 59-70.
    3. Takahashi, Ana Maria, 2016. "Job stress in Japanese academia: The role of relative income, time allocation by task, and children," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 12-17.
    4. Dräger, Vanessa, 2015. "Do Employment Protection Reforms Affect Well-Being?," IZA Discussion Papers 9114, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. repec:bla:revinw:v:64:y:2018:i:2:p:245-269 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Joel Mokyr & Chris Vickers & Nicolas L. Ziebarth, 2015. "The History of Technological Anxiety and the Future of Economic Growth: Is This Time Different?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 31-50, Summer.
    7. repec:kea:keappr:ker-20171231-33-2-04 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:bla:worlde:v:40:y:2017:i:9:p:1708-1717 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Maurice Schiff, 2017. "Habit, prisoner's dilemma and Americans’ welfare cost of working much more than Europeans," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(9), pages 1708-1717, September.
    10. Inés Berniell & Jan Bietenbeck, "undated". "The Effect of Working Hours on Health," CINCH Working Paper Series 1703, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    11. Kamila Cygam-Rehm & Christoph Wunder, 2018. "Do Working Hours Affect Health? Evidence from Statutory Workweek Regulations in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 967, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    12. Gerritsen, Aart, 2016. "Optimal taxation when people do not maximize well-being," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 122-139.
    13. Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Christoph Wunder, 2018. "Do Working Hours Affect Health? Evidence from Statutory Workweek Regulations in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 7098, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Andrew E. Clark, 2018. "Four Decades of the Economics of Happiness: Where Next?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(2), pages 245-269, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor market regulation; Hours regulation; Time-use; Life Satisfaction; Japan; Korea;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J88 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Public Policy

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