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The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours Among U.S. Men, 1979-2004


  • Kuhn, Peter J.

    () (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Lozano, Fernando A.

    () (Pomona College)


After declining for most of the century, the share of employed American men regularly working more than 50 hours per week began to increase around 1970. This trend has been especially pronounced among highly educated, high-wage, salaried, and older men. Using two decades of CPS data, we rule out a number of factors, including business cycles, changes in observed labor force characteristics, and changes in the level of men’s real hourly earnings as primary explanations of this trend. Instead we argue that increases in salaried men’s marginal incentives to supply hours beyond 40 accounted for the recent rise. Since these increases were accompanied by a rough constancy in real earnings at 40 hours, they can be interpreted as a compensated wage increase.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuhn, Peter J. & Lozano, Fernando A., 2006. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours Among U.S. Men, 1979-2004," IZA Discussion Papers 1924, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1924

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "12 Million Salaried Workers are Missing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(4), pages 649-666, July.
    2. Brent R. Moulton, 1996. "Bias in the Consumer Price Index: What Is the Evidence?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 159-177, Fall.
    3. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
    4. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    5. Casey B. Mulligan, 1998. "Microfoundations and macro implications of indivisible labor," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 126, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    7. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
    8. George J. Borjas, 1980. "The Relationship between Wages and Weekly Hours of Work: The Role of Division Bias," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(3), pages 409-423.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelacci, Claudio & Pijoan-Mas, Josep, 2007. "The Effects of Labor Market Conditions on Working Time: the US-EU Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 6314, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Peter Frase & Janet Gornick, 2009. "The Time Divide in Cross-National Perspective: The Work Week, Gender and Education in 17 Countries," LIS Working papers 526, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. Joan Esteban & Laurence Kranich, 2003. "The Social Contracts with Endogenous Sentiments," Working Papers 71, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    4. Edlund, Lena & Machado, Cecilia & Sviatschi, Maria, 2015. "Bright Minds, Big Rent: Gentrification and the Rising Returns to Skill," IZA Discussion Papers 9502, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2010. "Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?," NBER Chapters,in: Labor in the New Economy, pages 343-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Stoddard, Christiana & Kuhn, Peter J., 2004. "Incentives and Effort in the Public Sector: Have U.S. Education Reforms Increased Teachers’ Work Hours?," IZA Discussion Papers 1412, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Kudoh, Noritaka & Sasaki, Masaru, 2011. "Employment and hours of work," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 176-192, February.
    8. Lozano, Fernando A., 2012. "What Happened to God's Time? The Evolution of Secularism and Hours of Work in America, Evidence from Religious Holidays," IZA Discussion Papers 6552, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Claudio Michelacci & Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2012. "Intertemporal Labour Supply with Search Frictions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 899-931.
    10. Eduardo Wiesner, 2008. "The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policy Reform in Latin America," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12913.

    More about this item


    labor supply; work hours;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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