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Revisiting the neoclassical theory of labour supply – Disutility of labour, working hours, and happiness

  • Steffen Rätzel

    ()

    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

In empirical analyses, employment status has a substantial influence on individual wellbeing. People without work are consistently less happy, even after controlling for income. This result seems to contradict the standard theory assumption of labour disutility. In this paper, we analyze the impact of working time on happiness. The results show distinct positive utility effects caused by employment and working time. Happiness correlates positively with hours worked. However, there is an inverse U-shaped correlation – excessive hours reverse the relationship. Additionally, the results show the importance of exogenously given deviations of working time from the individually preferred labour supply. These discrepancies reduce well-being and counterbalance the positive effects of work.

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File URL: http://www.ww.uni-magdeburg.de/fwwdeka/femm/a2009_Dateien/2009_05.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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Paper provided by Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management in its series FEMM Working Papers with number 09005.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:09005
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  1. Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Booth, Alison L & van Ours, Jan C, 2007. "Job Satisfaction and Family Happiness: The Part-time Work Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6471, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  7. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  8. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
  9. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  10. Andrew Clark, 2001. "Unemployment As A Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," DELTA Working Papers 2001-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  11. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
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