IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Distribution of Total Work in the EU and US


  • Burda, Michael C.

    () (Humboldt University Berlin)

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    () (Barnard College)

  • Weil, Philippe

    () (ECARES, Free University of Brussels)


Using two time-diary data sets each for Germany, Italy the Netherlands and the U.S. from 1985-2003, we demonstrate that Americans work more than Europeans: 1) in the market; 2) in total (market and home production)-- there is no one-for-one tradeoff across countries in total work; 3) at unusual times of the day and on weekends. In addition, gender differences in total work within a given country are significantly smaller than variation across countries and time. We conclude that some of the transatlantic differences could reflect inferior equilibria that are generated by social norms and externalities. While an important outlet for total work, home production by females appears very sensitive to tax rates in the G-7 countries. We adapt the theory of home production to account for fixed costs of market work and adduce evidence that they, in contrast to other relative costs, vary significantly across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Burda, Michael C. & Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Weil, Philippe, 2006. "The Distribution of Total Work in the EU and US," IZA Discussion Papers 2270, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2270

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. Layard, R. & Nickell, S., 1991. "Unemployment in the OECD Countries," Economics Series Working Papers 99130, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
    4. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel, 2005. "Unemployment in the OECD Since the 1960s. What Do We Know?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 1-27, January.
    5. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
    6. H. Peyton Young, 1996. "The Economics of Convention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 105-122, Spring.
    7. Weiss, Yoram, 1996. "Synchronization of Work Schedules," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(1), pages 157-179, February.
    8. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ngai, L. Rachel & Pissarides, Christopher A., 2009. "Welfare policy and the distribution of hours of work," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28698, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Alessandro Cigno, 2007. "A Theoretical Analysis of the Effects of Legislation on Marriage, Fertility, Domestic Division of Labour, and the Education of Children," CESifo Working Paper Series 2143, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Michael C Burda & Daniel S Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2007. "Total Work, Gender and Social Norms," Working Papers hal-00972818, HAL.
    4. Joan Esteban & Laurence Kranich, 2003. "The Social Contracts with Endogenous Sentiments," Working Papers 71, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Burda, Michael C. & Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2010. "Unemployment, market work and household production," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 131-133, May.
    6. Ana Rute Cardoso & Daniel S. Hamermesh & José Varejao, 2012. "The Timing of Labor Demand," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 105-106, pages 15-34.
    7. Santos Monteiro, Paulo, 2005. "Family labor supply, precautionary behavior, aggregate saving and employment," MPRA Paper 2113, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2007.
    8. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni, 2013. "What are we learning from the life satisfaction literature?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 60(2), pages 113-155, June.
    9. Almudena Sevilla Sanz & Jose Ignacio GImenez Nadal, 2007. "A Note on Leisure Inequality in the US: 1965-2003," Economics Series Working Papers 374, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    10. Richard Rogerson, 2009. "Market Work, Home Work, and Taxes: A Cross-Country Analysis," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(3), pages 588-601, August.
    11. Leonardo Becchetti & Elena Giachin Ricca & Alessandra Pelloni, 2009. "The 60es turnaround as a test on the causal relationship between sociability and happiness," Econometica Working Papers wp07, Econometica.
    12. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Marcén, Miriam & Molina, José Alberto, 2007. "How Does the Presence of Children Affect Dependent Care? A Psycho-Economic Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2726, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
    14. Ciani, Emanuele, 2016. "Retirement, pension eligibility and home production," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 106-120.
    15. Kristin Dale, 2009. "Household skills and low wages," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(4), pages 1025-1038, October.
    16. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Stephen Donald, 2007. "The Time and Timing Costs of Market Work," NBER Working Papers 13127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Anxo, Dominique & Flood, Lennart & Mencarini, Letizia & Pailhé, Ariane & Solaz, Anne & Tanturri, Maria Letizia, 2007. "Time Allocation between Work and Family over the Life-Cycle: A Comparative Gender Analysis of Italy, France, Sweden and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 3193, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Monika Engler & Stefan Staubli, 2008. "The Distribution of Leisure Time Across Countries and Over Time," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2008 2008-14, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    19. Gelber, Alexander M. & Mitchell, Joshua W., 2009. "Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women," MPRA Paper 19148, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Pierre-André Chiappori & Murat Iyigun & Yoram Weiss, 2009. "Investment in Schooling and the Marriage Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1689-1713, December.
    21. Grossbard, Shoshana & Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto, 2010. "Racial Discrimination and Household Chores," IZA Discussion Papers 5345, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    22. Hans Bloemen & Silvia Pasqua & Elena Stancanelli, 2010. "An empirical analysis of the time allocation of Italian couples: are they responsive?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 345-369, September.

    More about this item


    household production; gender inequality; time use; hours of work;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2270. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.