IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper

Work and Leisure in the U. S. and Europe: Why so Different?

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Edward Glaeser
  • Bruce Sacerdote

Americans average 25. 1 working hours per person in working age per week, but the Germans average 18. 6 hours. The average American works 46. 2 weeks per year, while the French average 40 weeks per year. Why do western Europeans work so much less than Americans? Recent work argues that these differences result from higher European tax rates, but the vast empirical labor supply literature suggests that tax rates can explain only a small amount of the differences in hours between the U. S. and Europe. Another popular view is that these differences are explained by long-standing European “culture,” but Europeans worked more than Americans as late as the 1960s. In this paper, we argue that European labor market regulations, advocated by unions in declining European industries who argued “work less, work all” explain the bulk of the difference between the U. S. and Europe. These policies do not seem to have increased employment, but they may have had a more society-wide influence on leisure patterns because of a social multiplier where the returns to leisure increase as more people are taking longer vacations.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/pub/hier/2005/HIER2068.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2068.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2068
Contact details of provider: Postal:
200 Littauer Center, Cambridge, MA 02138

Phone: 617-495-2144
Fax: 617-495-7730
Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/journals/hier

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Davis, Steven J. & Henrekson, Magnus, 2004. "Tax Effects on Work Activity, Industry Mix and Shadow Economy Size: Evidence from Rich-Country Comparisons," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 560, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
  3. Keane, Michael & Moffitt, Robert, 1998. "A Structural Model of Multiple Welfare Program Participation and Labor Supply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(3), pages 553-89, August.
  4. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2009. "A Century of Work and Leisure," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 189-224, July.
  5. Arrufat, Jose Luis & Zabalza, Antonio, 1986. "Female Labor Supply with Taxation, Random Preferences, and Optimization Errors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(1), pages 47-63, January.
  6. Francesco Daveri & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Unemployment, growth and taxation in industrial countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 47-104, 04.
  7. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J, 2002. "The European Employment Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 3543, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Conny Olovsson, 2009. "Why Do Europeans Work So Little?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 39-61, 02.
  9. Nickell, Stephen, 1998. "Unemployment: Questions and Some Answers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 802-16, May.
  10. Lars Osberg, 2003. "Understanding Growth and Inequality Trends: The Role of Labour Supply in the US and Germany," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(s1), pages 163-184, January.
  11. Arthur van Soest & Isolde Woittiez & Arie Kapteyn, 1990. "Labor Supply, Income Taxes, and Hours Restrictions in the Netherlands," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 517-558.
  12. Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Staff Report 321, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Blundell, Richard W & Walker, Ian, 1982. "Modelling the Joint Determination of Household Labour Supplies and Commodity Demands," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(366), pages 351-64, June.
  14. Marimon, R. & Zilibotti, F., 1999. "Employment and Distributional Effects of Restricting Working Time," Economics Working Papers eco99/19, European University Institute.
  15. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1997. "The Welfare State and Competitiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 921-39, December.
  16. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  17. Friedrich Schneider & Christopher Bajada, 2003. "The Size and Development of the Shadow Economies in the Asia-Pacific," Economics working papers 2003-01, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  18. M Arellano & Costas Megir & Mary Silles, 1990. "Female Labour Supply and On-the-Job Search: An Empirical Model Estimated using Complementary Data Sets," CEP Discussion Papers dp0009, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  19. Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Has Work-Sharing Worked in Germany?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 117-148.
  20. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-90-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. T. J. Wales & A. D. Woodland, 1979. "Labour Supply and Progressive Taxes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 83-95.
  22. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2002. "The Social Multiplier," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1968, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  23. Schneider, Friedrich, 2002. "The Size and Development of the Shadow Economies of 22 Transition and 21 OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 514, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1997. "The Welfare State and Competitiveness," Scholarly Articles 4553027, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  25. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems and Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657.
  26. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1993. "The Carnegie Conjecture: Some Empirical Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 413-435.
  27. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  28. Pencavel, John, 1987. "Labor supply of men: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-102 Elsevier.
  29. N. S. Blomquist & U. Hansson-Brusewitz, 1990. "The Effect of Taxes on Male and Female Labor Supply in Sweden," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 317-357.
  30. 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.
  31. Blomquist, N. Soren, 1983. "The effect of income taxation on the labor supply of married men in Sweden," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 169-197, November.
  32. Robert K. Triest, 1990. "The Effect of Income Taxation on Labor Supply in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 491-516.
  33. Bertola, Giuseppe & Ichino, Andrea, 1995. "Wage Inequality and Unemployment: US vs Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1186, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  34. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1992. "The Carnegie Conjecture: Some Empirical Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2068. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.