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The Response of Wages and Actual Hours Worked to the Reductions of Standard Hours

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  • Jennifer Hunt

Abstract

A transformation of what had become a universal 40 hour standard work week in Germany began in 1985 with reductions negotiated in the metal-working and printing sectors. These reductions have continued through 1995, and were followed by reductions in other sectors. The union campaign aimed to increase employment through work-sharing, and is being emulated in the United States with the launch of a reduced hours campaign by the AFL-CIO. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, I find that increased overtime or reduced short time was little used to offset the reduction in standard hours: a one hour reduction in standard hours appears to have translated into a reduction in actual hours worked of between 0.85 and 1 hour for workers in manufacturing. One might expect this to have resulted in a loss of earnings for workers in affected industries. However, I substantiate the union claim of full wage compensation : reductions in standard hours were accompanied by a relative rise in the hourly straight-time wage of 2-3% for each hour fall in standard hours, enough to keep monthly earnings the same as in unaffected industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Hunt, 1996. "The Response of Wages and Actual Hours Worked to the Reductions of Standard Hours," NBER Working Papers 5716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5716
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wadhwani, Sushil B, 1987. "The Effects of Inflation and Real Wages on Employment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(213), pages 21-40, February.
    2. Nymoen, Ragnar, 1989. " Wages and the Length of the Working Day. An Empirical Test Based on Norwegian Quarterly Manufacturing Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(3), pages 599-612.
    3. Brunello, Giorgio, 1989. "The Employment Effects of Shorter Working Hours: An Application to Japanese Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(224), pages 473-486, November.
    4. Trejo, Stephen J, 1991. "The Effects of Overtime Pay Regulation on Worker Compensation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 719-740, September.
    5. Linda Bell & Richard Freeman, 1994. "Why Do Americans and Germans Work Different Hours?," NBER Working Papers 4808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. G Houpis, 1993. "The Effect of Lower Hours of Work on Wages and Employment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0131, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. R. A. Hart & T. Sharot, 1978. "The Short-run Demand for Workers and Hours: A Recursive Model," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(2), pages 299-309.
    8. Earle, John S & Pencavel, John, 1990. "Hours of Work and Trade Unionism," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 150-174, January.
    9. Booth, Alison & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Employment and Length of the Working Week in a Unionized Economy in which Hours of Work Influence Productivity," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 69(207), pages 428-436, December.
    10. Booth, Alison & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 1987. "The Employment Effects of a Shorter Working Week," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(214), pages 237-248, May.
    11. Calmfors, Lars, 1985. "Work sharing, employment and wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 293-309.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kapteyn, Arie & Kalwij, Adriaan & Zaidi, Asghar, 2004. "The myth of worksharing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 293-313, June.
    2. Tor Jacobson & Henry Ohlsson, 2000. "Working time, employment, and work sharing: Evidence from Sweden," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 169-187.
    3. repec:aia:aiaswp:wp5 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dur, Robert A. J., 2001. "Explaining unemployment trends in the Netherlands," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 161-168, February.
    5. Juha Kilponen & Pekka Sinko, 2005. "Taxation And Centralised Wage Setting: The Case Of Endogenous Labour Supply," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(4), pages 587-606, September.
    6. Carlos Medina D. & José Escobar R., 2007. "The Effects of Changes in the Legal Work Shift on Wages and Hours Worked in Colombia," COYUNTURA SOCIAL 012866, FEDESARROLLO.
    7. Baek, Ehung Gi & Oh, Wankeun, 2004. "The short-run production effect of the reduction of working hours," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 123-144, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects

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