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The Effect of Working Hours on Health


  • Berniell, Maria Ines

    () (University of La Plata)

  • Bietenbeck, Jan

    () (Lund University)


Does working time causally affect workers' health? We study this question in the context of a French reform which reduced the standard workweek from 39 to 35 hours, at constant earnings. Our empirical analysis exploits variation in the adoption of this shorter workweek across employers, which is mainly driven by institutional features of the reform and thus exogenous to workers' health. Difference-in-differences and lagged dependent variable regressions reveal a negative effect of working hours on self-reported health and positive effects on smoking and body mass index, though the latter is imprecisely estimated. Results are robust to accounting for endogenous job mobility and differ by workers' occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Berniell, Maria Ines & Bietenbeck, Jan, 2017. "The Effect of Working Hours on Health," IZA Discussion Papers 10524, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10524

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matthieu Chemin & Etienne Wasmer, 2009. "Using Alsace-Moselle Local Laws to Build a Difference-in-Differences Estimation Strategy of the Employment Effects of the 35-Hour Workweek Regulation in France," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(4), pages 487-524, October.
    2. Schaller, Jessamyn & Stevens, Ann Huff, 2015. "Short-run effects of job loss on health conditions, health insurance, and health care utilization," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 190-203.
    3. Philippe Askenazy, 2013. "Working time regulation in France from 1996 to 2012," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 323-347.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2017. "Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
    5. Mikael Lindahl, 2005. "Estimating the Effect of Income on Health and Mortality Using Lottery Prizes as an Exogenous Source of Variation in Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    6. Henry Saffer & Karine Lamiraud, 2012. "The effect of hours of work on social interaction," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 237-258, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hélène Blake & Clémentine Garrouste, 2017. "Collateral effects of a pension reform in France," Working Papers hal-01500683, HAL.

    More about this item


    working hours; health; smoking; BMI;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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