Working More? Working Less? What Do Canadian Workers Prefer?
Faced with high unemployment rates, an unequal distribution of worktime, and shifts to temporary, part-time and contract employment, Canadian workers may prefer to change their work hours. Using data from the Survey of Work Arrangements of 1995, we find that two thirds of Canadian workers are satisfied with their work hours. The majority of workers who are not satisfied would prefer more hours for more pay rather than fewer hours for less pay. This finding is robust as it holds for each age group, education level, seniority level, industrial and occupational group. Workers most likely to want more work hours are generally young, have low levels of education, have little seniority, hold temporary jobs, work short hours and are employed in low-skill occupations. Workers who are the most likely to desire a shorter work week are professionals, managers, and natural and social science workers, have high hourly wage rates, possess high levels of education, have long job tenure, occupy permanent jobs and already work long hours. Calculations based on the Survey on Work Reduction of 1985 suggest that if Canadian workers were to voluntarily reduce their work week, the number of work hours available for redistribution would unlikely be sufficient to both eliminate underemployment and reduce unemployment. The potential for work time redistribution, as measured by the propensity to desire fewer hours, appears to be greatest (lowest) in age-education groups with relatively low (high) unemployment rates. This implies that the resulting decrease in unemployment and underemployment could be more pronounced in groups where workers are already relatively successful.
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