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Understanding Regional Differences in Work Hours

Listed author(s):
  • Heisz, Andrew
  • Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien
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    In recent years, differences in working hours between Canada and other countries have been the focus of a substantial body of research. Much less attention has been paid to regional differences in work hours, although differences in average annual work hours between some regions are of an order of magnitude that is similar to that of the Canada-U.S. difference. Using data from the 2004 Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, this study examines how much of differences in working time between Ontario and five other regions of Canada can be explained by 'observable' differences, including differences in union status, industrial structure, job conditions and demographic characteristics. 'Observables' were relatively efficient in explaining differences in the shares of individuals working a short year and working a full-year, full-time schedule. However, they were not very helpful in explaining differences in long work hours, did not entirely explain the larger share of short-year workers in the Atlantic and in British Columbia, and did not explain the huge popularity of the 'low' full-year, full-time schedule in Quebec. These differences that remain unexplained suggest that 'unobservable' factors (those that are difficult to observe in household surveys) also contribute to regional differences in work hours. These include incentives related to wage inequality, possible tax incentives (or disincentives) built upon progressive taxation policies, differences in job conditions, in preferences and tastes, and in the shape of institutions.

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    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 2007293e.

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    Date of creation: 22 Jan 2007
    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2007293e
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    1. Andrew Sharpe, 2003. "Why are Americans More Productive than Canadians?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 6, pages 19-37, Spring.
    2. Paul J. Devereux, 2004. "Changes in Relative Wages and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
    3. Heisz, Andrew & Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien, 2006. "Work Hours Instability in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006278e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. Mary C. Daly & Robert G. Valletta, 2006. "Inequality and Poverty in United States: The Effects of Rising Dispersion of Men's Earnings and Changing Family Behaviour," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 75-98, 02.
    5. Susan Johnson & Peter Kuhn, 2004. "Increasing Male Earnings Inequality in Canada and the United States, 1981­1997: The Role of Hours Changes versus Wage Changes," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(2), pages 155-176, June.
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