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Shorter Work Time, Hours Flexibility, and Labor Intensification

Listed author(s):
  • Philippe Askenazy


Full-time work hours in continental Europe have recently both declined and become more flexible. However, evidence from France suggests that the reduction of work time has not clearly improved workers' well-being. This paper offers an explanation for this outcome using a simple bargaining model that analyzes the connections among work time, hours flexibility, and labor effort. The model suggests that in return for higher hourly wages, trade unions consent to greater management-controlled hours flexibility. Hours flexibility, in turn, leads to a deterioration in working conditions, including an intensification of labor effort, which becomes acceptable to workers only when work time is reduced. In this model, shorter work time does not reduce the overall effort of workers, and may indeed raise it. Consequently, workers' utility does not necessarily rise with reduced work time even if overall pay is unaltered.

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Article provided by Eastern Economic Association in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 30 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 603-614

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Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:30:y:2004:i:4:p:603-614
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  1. John M. Evans & Douglas C. Lippoldt & Pascal Marianna, 2001. "Trends in Working Hours in OECD Countries," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 45, OECD Publishing.
  2. Askenazy Philippe & Caroli Eve, 2003. "New Organizational Practices and Well-Being at Work: Evidence for France in 1998," Research Unit Working Papers 0311, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
  3. Askenazy, Philippe, 2002. "Dynamique de l'innovation organisationnelle lors de la r├ęduction du temps de travail," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 0210, CEPREMAP.
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