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Constraints on the Choice of Work Hours: Agency vs. Specific-Capital

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  • Shulamit Kahn
  • Kevin Lang

Abstract

Most models of implicit lifetime contracts imply that at any particular point in time, workers' wages and value of marginal product (VMP) will diverge. As a result, the contract will have to specify hours as well as wages, since firms will desire to prevent workers from working more when the wage is greater than VMP and from working less when the wage is less than VMP. this divergence, combined with the fact that in efficient contracts, the hours are set so that VMP equals the marginal value of leisure, implies that workers will face binding hours constraints. We show that the two major models of lifetime contracts, the agency model and the firm-specific capital model, make opposite predictions regarding the relation between work hours constraints and job tenure. We test these predictions. Our results indicate that neither model of efficient long-term contracts explains the observed pattern of hours constraints. Therefore, we briefly consider other explanations.

Suggested Citation

  • Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1987. "Constraints on the Choice of Work Hours: Agency vs. Specific-Capital," NBER Working Papers 2238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2238
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    Cited by:

    1. Steven Stern & Petra Todd, 2000. "A Test Of Lazear’S Mandatory Retirement Model," Virginia Economics Online Papers 391, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
    2. Kessing, Sebastian G. & Konrad, Kai A., 2005. "Union Strategy and Optimal Income Taxation," IZA Discussion Papers 1545, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Yi-Ping Tseng & Mark Wooden, 2005. "Preferred vs Actual Working Hours in Couple Households," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n07, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. David Bell & Steffen Otterbach & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2012. "Work Hours Constraints and Health," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 105-106, pages 35-54.
    5. Joseph G. Altonji & Emiko Usui, 2007. "Work Hours, Wages, and Vacation Leave," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(3), pages 408-428, April.
    6. Paxson, Christina H & Sicherman, Nachum, 1996. "The Dynamics of Dual Job Holding and Job Mobility," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 357-393, July.
    7. Joseph G. Altonji & Christina H. Paxson, 1992. "Labor Supply, Hours Constraints, and Job Mobility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 256-278.
    8. Drolet, Marie & Morissette, Rene, 1997. "Travailler plus? Travailler moins? Que preferent les travailleurs canadiens?," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 1997104f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
    9. Rebitzer, James B & Taylor, Lowell J, 1995. "Do Labor Markets Provide Enough Short-Hour Jobs? An Analysis of Work Hours and Work Incentives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(2), pages 257-273, April.
    10. Drolet, Marie & Morissette, Rene, 1997. "Working More? Working Less? What Do Canadian Workers Prefer?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1997104e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.

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