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Preferred vs Actual Working Hours in Couple Households

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  • Yi-Ping Tseng

    () (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)

Abstract

Working hours in Australia are quite widely distributed around the population mean. That is, there are relatively many people working both relatively short hours and relatively long hours each week. From a welfare perspective, however, it is not the actual number of hours worked that is of importance, but whether the hours being worked are consistent with individual preferences. In this paper the question of how closely hours preferences are being met is examined using data collected in the first wave of the HILDA Survey. The study focuses specifically on workers in couple households. The analysis involved two main stages. In the first stage, evidence of a significant time divide - the co-existence of many people working part-time hours who would prefer to work longer and many people working very long hours who ould prefer to work fewer hours - is found. The extent of this time divide, however, should not be overstated - the hours of the majority of workers are still reasonably close to their stated preference. The second stage of the analysis focused on identifying the factors associated with mismatch in working hours preferences. The extent of overemployment, for example, is found to rise with age, and is more pronounced among the self-employed and less pronounced among those with a recent history of unemployment. Underemployment, on the other hand, is also associated positively with self-employment, as well as with casual employment. Perhaps of most interest, we find that in couples preferred hours are influenced by whether or not, and the extent to which, partners achieve their working time preferences. That is, if one member of the couple is unable to work as many hours as desired, this leads their partner to prefer more hours.

Suggested Citation

  • Yi-Ping Tseng & Mark Wooden, 2005. "Preferred vs Actual Working Hours in Couple Households," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n07, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2005n07
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    File URL: http://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/downloads/working_paper_series/wp2005n07.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shulamit B. Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1995. "The Causes of Hours Constraints: Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 914-928, November.
    2. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 606-620.
    3. Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1992. "Constraints on the Choice of Work Hours: Agency Versus Specific-Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 661-678.
    4. Stewart, Mark B & Swaffield, Joanna K, 1997. "Constraints on the Desired Hours of Work of British Men," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 520-535, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Euwals, Rob & van Soest, Arthur, 1999. "Desired and actual labour supply of unmarried men and women in the Netherlands," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 95-118, March.
    7. Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1987. "Constraints on the Choice of Work Hours: Agency vs. Specific-Capital," NBER Working Papers 2238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Denise J. Doiron, 2003. "Is Under-Employment due to Labour Hoarding? Evidence from the Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(246), pages 306-323, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bonke, Jens & Schultz-Nielsen, Marie Louise, 2014. "Do Preferences Impact Behavior and Wellbeing? A Panel Study of Preferred and Actual Working Time 2001-2008/09," IZA Discussion Papers 8356, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. 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.
    3. Francesco Carbonero & Christian Offermanns & Enzo Weber, 2017. "The Trend in Labour Income Share: the Role of Technological Change and Imperfect Labour Markets," Working Papers 173, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    4. Keith A. Bender & John Douglas Satun, 2009. "Constrained By Hours And Restricted In Wages: The Quality Of Matches In The Labor Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(3), pages 512-529, July.
    5. Robert Drago & David Black & Mark Wooden, 2006. "Who Wants Flexibility? Changing Work Hours Preferences and Life Events," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2006n19, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    6. Joanna Abhayaratna & Ralph Lattimore, 2007. "Workforce Participation Rates - How Does Australia Compare?," Staff Working Papers 0701, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.

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