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Who Are the Overworked Americans?

Author

Listed:
  • Jerry Jacobs
  • Kathleen Green

Abstract

This paper analyzes three trends in working time in the United States over the last thirty years. First, we document an increasing bifurcation of working time, with growth evident among those working both long and short hours. An international comparison also shows that the United States stands out as having among the highest percentage of workers putting in 50 hours per week or more. Second, we argue that there is a mismatch between working time and the preferences of American workers. On average, those working very long hours express a desire to work less, while those working short hours prefer to work more. Third, we maintain that the sense of being overworked stems primarily from demographic shifts in the labor force rather than from changes in average working time per se. Even in the absence of a dramatic rise in time spent on the job, the growth in the proportion of American households consisting of dual-earner couples and single parents has created a growing percentage of workers who face heightened time pressures and increased conflicts between work and their private lives.

Suggested Citation

  • Jerry Jacobs & Kathleen Green, 1998. "Who Are the Overworked Americans?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(4), pages 442-459.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:56:y:1998:i:4:p:442-459
    DOI: 10.1080/00346769800000044
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. David Bell & Steffen Otterbach & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2012. "Work Hours Constraints and Health," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 105-106, pages 35-54.
    2. Steffen Otterbach, 2010. "Mismatches Between Actual and Preferred Work Time: Empirical Evidence of Hours Constraints in 21 Countries," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 143-161, June.
    3. Anna S. Burger, 2015. "Extreme Working Hours in Western Europe and North America: A New Aspect of Polarization," LIS Working papers 649, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    4. Kaylene J. Fellows & Hsin-Yao Chiu & E. Jeffrey Hill & Alan J. Hawkins, 2016. "Work–Family Conflict and Couple Relationship Quality: A Meta-analytic Study," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 509-518, December.
    5. Ragni Hege Kitterød & Marit Rønsen & Ane Seierstad, 2011. "Working hours in dual-earner couples: Does one partner work less when the other works more?," Discussion Papers 670, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    6. Begoña Álvarez & Daniel Miles, 2003. "Gender effect on housework allocation: Evidence from Spanish two-earner couples," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(2), pages 227-242, May.
    7. Ragni Hege Kitterød & Marit Rønsen & AneSeierstad, 2011. "Mobilising female labour market reserves: What promotes women's transitions from part-time to full-time work?," Discussion Papers 658, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    8. Anna S. Burger, 2015. "Extreme working hours in Western Europe and North America: A new aspect of polarization," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 92, European Institute, LSE.
    9. Sullivan, Oriel & Gershuny, Jonathan, 2001. "Cross-national changes in time-use: some sociological (hi)stories re-examined," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-01, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

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