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Hours Restrictions and Labor Supply

  • William T. Dickens
  • Shelly J. Lundberg

This study presents a model of labor supply in which individuals may face constraints on their choice of work hours, and analyzes the sensitivity of parameter estimates and policy conclusions to the usual assumption of unrestricted choice. We set up the labor supply decision asa discrete choice problem, where each worker faces a finite number of employment opportunities, each offering fixed hours of work.The distribution from which these are drawn, as well as the number of draws, is estimated along with the behavioral parameters of individual labor supply.The standard model with unconstrained hours appears as a special case where the number of draws approaches infinity. We estimate the mean absolute difference between desired and actual work hours to be about ten hours perweek. The results strongly support the notion that hours choices are constrained, and suggest that models which ignore restrictions on hours worked may yield biased estimates of the wage elasticity of desired hours. Further, we suggest that analysis of policies such as income transfers and the flat rate tax which do not consider their effects on the distribution of hours offered may be very misleading.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1638.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1638.

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Date of creation: Jun 1985
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Publication status: published as International Economic Review, "Labor Supply with Hours Restrictions."vol 34, no. 1, Feb 1993, pp 169-192
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1638
Note: LS
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  1. Rosen, Harvey S, 1976. "Taxes in a Labor Supply Model with Joint Wage-Hours Determination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(3), pages 485-507, May.
  2. Shelly J. Lundberg, 1984. "Tied Wage-Hours Offers and the Endogeneity of Wages," NBER Working Papers 1431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Deaton, Angus & Meullbauer, John, 1981. "Functional Forms for Labor Supply and Commodity Demands with and without Quantity Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1521-32, November.
  4. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1984. "Partial retirement and the analysis of retirement behavior," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(3), pages 403-415, April.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1982. "The Tobit Model, Hours of Work and Institutional Constraints," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(3), pages 510-15, August.
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