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Working Longer Hours: Pressure from the Boss or Pressure from the Marketers?


  • David George


The century-long decline in the amount of time spent working for income has been reversed over the last twenty-five years. By one account, this reversal is primarily traceable to a rise in the power fo employers who find more work hours per employee to be in their interest. By another account, that I argue to be the more convincing, the major cause of the change is the growing sophisticated of advertising and marketing which has stimulated demand and led to voluntarydecisions to work more. Education is presented as an example of the effects that rising “marketization” has on a product's nature. Decreased hours of study and grade inflation are offered as two examples of the crowding out of production for oneself at the expense of production for sale in the market. While no attempt is made to draw clear normative conclusions regarding educational trends, the paper concludes with a normative assessment of the trend toward greater time spent in the workplace. I argue that the historically recent rise of “workaholism” suggests that for at least a portion of the workforce, market forces have created preferences to work more that are ranked lower than what they replace; that the overworked American is too often one in the grip of an unpreferred preference regarding work.

Suggested Citation

  • David George, 1997. "Working Longer Hours: Pressure from the Boss or Pressure from the Marketers?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(1), pages 33-65.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:55:y:1997:i:1:p:33-65
    DOI: 10.1080/00346769700000023

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Mark Wooden & Joanne Loundes & Yi-Ping Tseng, 2002. "Industrial Relations Reform and Business Performance: An Introduction," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2002n02, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Stuart Fraser & David Paton, 2003. "Does advertising increase labour supply? Time series evidence from the UK," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(11), pages 1357-1368.
    4. Mark Wooden, 2003. "Long-Hours Working and Enterprise Bargaining," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 10(3), pages 259-271.
    5. Francis Green, 2000. "Why has Work Effort become more intense? Conjectures and Evidence about Effort-Biased Technical Change and other stories," Studies in Economics 0003, School of Economics, University of Kent.

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