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Work Hours Constraints: Impacts and Policy Implications

  • Constant, Amelie F.

    ()

    (DIW DC, George Washington University)

  • Otterbach, Steffen

    ()

    (University of Hohenheim)

If individuals reveal their preference as consumers, then they are taken seriously. What happens if individuals, as employees, reveal their preferences in working hours? And what happens if there is a misalignment between actual hours worked and preferred hours, the so-called work hours constraints? How does this affect the productivity of workers, their health, and overall life satisfaction? Labor supply and corresponding demand are fundamental to production. Labor economists know for long that the fit of a worker in a job and the matching of skills to the assigned employment are of paramount importance; they guarantee high productivity, quality output, and individual happiness. Employees demand higher social awareness and a working environment where they feel useful and happy. The evidence shows that discrepancies between preferred hours of work and actual hours of work can have serious detrimental effects on workers, perverse effects on labor supply with unintended direct ramifications on the labor market and indirect implications on the goods and services markets. The sooner employers acknowledge and address working hours constraints the faster we can build work lives that make us better off.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Policy Papers with number 35.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izapps:pp35
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  1. Karl Brenke, 2004. "Dauer der Arbeitszeiten in Deutschland," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 71(47), pages 731-737.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Christina H. Paxson, 1987. "Labor Supply Preferences, Hours Constraints, and Hours-Wage Tradeoffs," NBER Working Papers 2121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Böheim, René & Taylor, Mark P., 2001. "Actual and preferred working hours," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-06, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  4. Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1996. "Hours Constraints and the Wage/Hours Locus," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(s1), pages 71-75, April.
  5. Wolf, Elke, 1998. "Do hours restrictions matter? A discrete family labor supply model with endogenous wages and hours restrictions," ZEW Discussion Papers 98-44, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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  7. Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Ziegler, Alexandre, 2003. "Asymmetric information about workers' productivity as a cause for inefficient long working hours," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 727-747, December.
  8. Bell, David N.F. & Otterbach, Steffen & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2011. "Work Hours Constraints and Health," IZA Discussion Papers 6126, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Silke Anger, 2006. "Zur Vergütung von Überstunden in Deutschland: unbezahlte Mehrarbeit auf dem Vormarsch," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 73(15/16), pages 189-196.
  10. Otterbach, Steffen, 2009. "Mismatches between actual and preferred work time: empirical evidence of hours constraints in 21 countries," FZID Discussion Papers 07-2009, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
  11. Stewart, Mark B & Swaffield, Joanna K, 1997. "Constraints on the Desired Hours of Work of British Men," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 520-35, March.
  12. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
  13. Landers, Renee M & Rebitzer, James B & Taylor, Lowell J, 1996. "Rat Race Redux: Adverse Selection in the Determination of Work Hours in Law Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 329-48, June.
  14. Elke Holst, 2009. "Vollzeitbeschäftigte wollen kürzere, Teilzeitbeschäftigte längere Arbeitszeiten," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 76(25), pages 409-415.
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