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Working Time over the 20th Century

  • Alexander Ueberfeldt

From 1870 to 2000, the workweek length of employed persons decreased by 41 per cent in industrialized countries. The employment rate, employment per working age person, displays large movements but no clear secular pattern. This motivated the question: What accounts for the large decrease in the workweek length and developments in the employment rate over the past 130 years? The answer is given in a dynamic general-equilibrium model with supervisory and production workers. Over time, both types of workers become more productive. In a calibrated version of the model, productivity gains of supervisors account for a large fraction of the decline in the workweek length in Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The model, augmented to include taxes, government spending, and technological progress, captures the movement in the employment rates of the three countries.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 06-18.

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Length: 70 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:06-18
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  1. Larry E. Jones & Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2003. "Why are married women working so much?," Staff Report 317, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Non-convexities in quantitative general equilibrium studies of business cycles," Staff Report 312, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 2004. "Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Micro-Estimation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub04-1, August.
  4. Bils, Mark & Cho, Jang-Ok, 1994. "Cyclical factor utilization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 319-354, April.
  5. Victoria Osuna Padilla & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2002. "Implementing the 35 Hour Workweek by Means of Overtime Taxation," Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces E2002/04, Centro de Estudios Andaluces.
  6. Jennifer Hunt, 1998. "Hours Reductions as Work-Sharing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 339-381.
  7. Finn E. Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1989. "Hours and employment variation in business cycle theory," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 17, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Andreas Hornstein & Edward C. Prescott, 1989. "The firm and the plant in general equilibrium theory," Staff Report 126, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Michele Boldrin & Sergi Jiménez-Martín & Franco Peracchi, 2004. "Micro-Modeling of Retirement Behavior in Spain," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Micro-Estimation, pages 499-578 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  11. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "The Great U.K. Depression: A Puzzle and Possible Resolution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 19-44, January.
  12. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  13. Joines, Douglas H, 1981. "Estimates of Effective Marginal Tax Rates on Factor Incomes," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 191-226, April.
  14. Stephenson, E. Frank, 1998. "Average marginal tax rates revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 389-409, April.
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