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Differences in Work Hours and Hours Preferences by Race in the U.S


  • Linda Bell


Significant differences exist in actual and preferred work hours by race. Specifically, black males work 20 percent fewer annual hours than white males. The differences between black and white women are small. Black workers are significantly more likely than white workers to prefer additional work and fewer are satisfied with their current hours of work. I use the hours-inequality hypothesis of Bell and Freeman (1995,1997) to evaluate the extent to which race differences in work hours and hours preferences are related to race differences in incentives. I demonstrate that whereas white workers work longer hours in response to overall wage variation in their relevant labor market cell, black workers react to the wage variation among black workers but not to the variation overall. The fact that labor market incentives are different for otherwise similar black and white workers is difficult to reconcile with standard competitive theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Linda Bell, 1998. "Differences in Work Hours and Hours Preferences by Race in the U.S," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(4), pages 481-500.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:56:y:1998:i:4:p:481-500 DOI: 10.1080/00346769800000046

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Drago & Mark Wooden & David Black, 2009. "Long Work Hours: Volunteers and Conscripts," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(3), pages 571-600, September.
    2. Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2005. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages 397-412, November.
    3. John Pencavel, 2016. "Whose Preferences Are Revealed In Hours Of Work?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 9-24, January.


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