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Togetherness: Spouses' Synchronous Leisure, and the Impact of Children

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

This study goes beyond the immense literature on the quantity of labor that households supply to examine the timing of their labor/leisure choices. Using two-year panels from the United States in the 1970s it demonstrates that couples prefer to consume leisure simultaneously: Synchronization is greater than random male-female pairing would predict. In the 1970s the demand for joint leisure among working couples was more responsive to increases in wives' earnings than to husbands', but by the 1990s the responses were identical. Couples react to changes in constraints on them by altering their schedules to preserve joint leisure, and those with higher full incomes consume more of their leisure jointly. Children reduce the jointness of spouses' leisure, with the greatest change in schedules occurring among new mothers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7455.

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Date of creation: Jan 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Timing, Togetherness and Time Windfalls" Hamermesh, Daniel S.; Journal of Population Economics, November 2002, v. 15, iss. 4, pp. 601-23
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7455
Note: LS
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  1. Zweimuller, Josef & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf & Falkinger, Josef, 1996. "Retirement of spouses and social security reform," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 449-472, February.
  2. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
  3. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1988. "Labor Supply of Husbands and Wives: A Simultaneous Equations Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 224-35, May.
  4. Kostiuk, Peter F, 1990. "Compensating Differentials for Shift Work," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1054-75, October.
  5. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  6. Hilary Hoynes, 1993. "Welfare Transfers in Two-Parent Families: Labor Supply and Welfare Participation Under AFDC-UP," NBER Working Papers 4407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  8. Blau, David M, 1998. "Labor Force Dynamics of Older Married Couples," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 595-629, July.
  9. Arleen Leibowitz & Jacob Alex Klerman & Linda J. Waite, 1992. "Employment of New Mothers and Child Care Choice: Differences by Children's Age," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(1), pages 112-133.
  10. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters, in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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