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Are the French Happy with the 35-Hour Workweek?

  • Estevão, Marcello


    (International Monetary Fund)

  • Sa, Filipa


    (King's College London)

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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2459.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2459
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2005. "Work and Leisure in the U. S. and Europe: Why so Different?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2068, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua D. Angrist, 2001. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 915-957, October.
  3. Olivier Blanchard, 2004. "The Economic Future of Europe," NBER Working Papers 10310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans Work so Much More than Europeans?," NBER Working Papers 10316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Marie Leclair & Bruno Crépon & 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.
  6. 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.
  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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