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Working More? Working Less? What Do Canadian Workers Prefer?


  • Drolet, Marie
  • Morissette, Rene


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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1997104e

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ashenfelter, Orley & Heckman, James J, 1974. "The Estimation of Income and Substitution Effects in a Model of Family Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(1), pages 73-85, January.
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    6. Gordon Cleveland & Morley Gunderson & Douglas Hyatt, 1996. "Child Care Costs and the Employment Decision of Women: Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 132-151, February.
    7. Statistics Canada, 1995. "Why Has Inequality in Weekly Earnings Increased in Canada?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995080e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    8. Shulamit B. Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1995. "The Causes of Hours Constraints: Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 914-928, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francis Green & Nicholas Tsitsianis, 2004. "Can the Changing Nature of Jobs Account for National Trends in Job Satisfaction?," Studies in Economics 0406, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. Meh, Césaire A. & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor & Terajima, Yaz, 2010. "Aggregate and welfare effects of redistribution of wealth under inflation and price-level targeting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 637-652, September.
    3. Statistics Canada, 2003. "Working Hours in Canada and the United States," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2003209e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. René Böheim & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "Actual and Preferred Working Hours," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 149-166, March.
    5. RenÈ B–heim & Mark P. Taylor, 2003. "Option Or Obligation? The Determinants Of Labour Supply Preferences In Britain," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 71(2), pages 113-131, March.
    6. Nadia Steiber, 2008. ""How Many Hours Would you Want to Work a Week?": Job Quality and the Omitted Variables Bias in Labour Supply Models," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 121, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Michael Huberman & Paul Lanoie, 1998. "Worksharing in Québec: Five Case Studies," CIRANO Working Papers 98s-11, CIRANO.
    8. Michael Huberman & Paul Lanoie, 2000. "Changing Attitudes Toward Worksharing: Evidence from Quebec," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 26(2), pages 141-155, June.


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