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Gender and Work Hours Transitions in Australia: Drop Ceilings and Trap-Door Floors

  • Robert Drago


    (Department of Labor Studies and Industrial Relations, Pennsylvania State University)

  • David Black


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Mark Wooden


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

We introduce the ideas of “drop ceilings”, that full-time employees who switch to reduced hours thereafter face an hours ceiling such that a return to full-time employment is difficult, and of “trap-door floors”, that full-time employees may be denied the opportunity to reduce their hours and instead face a choice between full-time employment and quitting the job. These ideas derive from the potential existence of norms around the ideal worker and motherhood. Relevant hypotheses are developed and tested using information on usual and preferred working time from the first two waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. The key findings are that women face drop ceilings significantly more often than men; that professionals and managers confront trap-door floors significantly more often than employees in other occupations; and that trap-door floor effects are generally stronger than drop ceiling effects in the data.

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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2004n11.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n11
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
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  1. repec:ese:iserwp:2001-06 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Rebecca M. Blank, 1994. "The Dynamics of Part-Time Work," NBER Working Papers 4911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Buddelmeyer, Hielke & Mourre, Gilles & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie E., 2004. "Recent Developments in Part-Time Work in EU-15 Countries: Trends and Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 1415, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Mark Wooden & Simon Freidin & Nicole Watson, 2002. "The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)Survey: Wave 1," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 35(3), pages 339-348.
  5. Kea Tijdens, 2002. "Gender Roles and Labor Use Strategies: Women's Part-Time Work in the European Union," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 71-99.
  6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  7. R. G. Gregory & R. C. Duncan, 1981. "Segmented Labor Market Theories and the Australian Experience of Equal Pay for Women," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 3(3), pages 403-428, April.
  8. René Böheim & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "Actual and Preferred Working Hours," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 149-166, 03.
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