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Are the French Happy with the 35-Hour Workweek?

  • Marcello M. Estevão
  • Filipa Sa

Legally mandated reductions in the workweek can be either a constraint on individuals' choice or a tool to coordinate individuals' preferences for lower work hours. We confront these two hypotheses by studying the consequences of the workweek reduction in France from 39 to 35 hours, which was first applied to large firms in 2000. Using the timing difference by firm size to set up a quasi-experiment and data from the French labor force survey, we show that the law constrained the choice of a significant number of individuals: dual-job holdings increased, some workers in large firms went to small firms where hours were not constrained, and others were replaced by cheaper, unemployed individuals as relative hourly wages increased in large firms. Employment of persons directly affected by the law declined, although the net effect on aggregate employment was not significant.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 06/251.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:06/251
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  1. Olivier Blanchard, 2004. "The Economic Future of Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working papers 98-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Cooper, Russell & John, Andrew, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-63, August.
  4. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why Do Americans Work So Much More Than Europeans?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000413, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Alberto F. Alesina & Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "Work and Leisure in the U.S. and Europe: Why So Different?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 1-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bruno Crépon & Marie Leclair & Sébastien Roux, 2004. "RTT, productivité et emploi : nouvelles estimations sur données d'entreprises," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 376(1), pages 55-89.
  7. 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.
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