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Adapting to the Lifecourse? Evaluating Men and Women’s Working-Time Preferences


  • Brigid van Wanrooy

    () (The Australian National University)


While participants in the Australian working time debate have focussed on the length and diversity of working hours, one of the central elements of the debate is whether these hours are meeting workers’ preferences. Hakim’s (2000) preference theory of work-lifestyle choices was developed to provide a framework for examining women’s work and family choices throughout their lives. She argues that while the majority of women have ‘adaptive’ preferences for both work and family, the majority of men have ‘work-centred’ preferences. This paper examines this theory using the NLC data on work hours and preferences, amongst men and women over the lifecourse. We find that work hours and preferences vary over the lifecourse for women, both with and without children. Analysis of men’s work hours shows little variation dependent on lifecourse stage, contrary to women. However, when we examine men’s individual movements in and out of the workforce we find evidence of adaptive behaviour. Additionally, in some cases men’s preferences for adaptive behaviour are not being met.

Suggested Citation

  • Brigid van Wanrooy, 2005. "Adapting to the Lifecourse? Evaluating Men and Women’s Working-Time Preferences," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 8(2), pages 145-162, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:8:y:2005:i:2:p:145-162

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefanie Gerold & Matthias Nocker, 2015. "Reduction of Working Time in Austria. A Mixed Methods Study Relating a New Work Time Policy to Employee Preferences," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 97, WWWforEurope.

    More about this item


    Time Allocation and Labor Supply (hours of work; part-time employment; temporary workers; work sharing; absenteeism; quits; work-life balance) Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination Time Allocation; Work Behavior; Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General


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