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Time over the Life Course: Preferences, Options and Life Course Policy


  • Loek Groot

    (Utrecht School of Economics, Utrecht University)

  • Koen Breedveld

    (SCP, the Hague)


This article has a twofold objective and addresses two central questions. Is there a gap between the preferences for and availability of various ways to make working patterns more flexible over the life course? What is the role of life course policy (LCP) in narrowing this gap? Using the Eurobarometer 2004 survey on time use over the life course, in the first part we map the preferences, options and attitudes of workers to several ways of modifying their, often standard, working biographies through sabbaticals, smoothing into early retirement, educational leave, palliative leave, part-time jobs or temporary unpaid leaves. As is clear from the empirical part, there is ample potential among the European workforce to arrange paid and unpaid work and leisure in different ways over the life course. In the second part, we discuss the potential of distinct LCP to effectuate more life cycle oriented choices made by workers themselves on how to spend their time and arrange it over the life course according to their own wishes.

Suggested Citation

  • Loek Groot & Koen Breedveld, 2004. "Time over the Life Course: Preferences, Options and Life Course Policy," Public Economics 0410005, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0410005
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 14

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ces:ifodic:v:7:y:2009:i:4:p:14567037 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. A. Lans Bovenberg, 2009. "Institutional Failures and the Life Course," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 7(4), pages 3-7, 01.
    3. A. LansBovenberg, 2009. "Institutional Failures and the Life Course," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 7(04), pages 3-7, January.
    4. Wotschack, Philip, 2010. "Working-time options over the life course: New challenges to German companies in times of crisis," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Skill Formation and Labor Markets SP I 2010-502, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    5. Pullinger, Martin, 2014. "Working time reduction policy in a sustainable economy: Criteria and options for its design," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 11-19.
    6. Wotschack, Philip, 2017. "Leave saving options over the life course – only for the highly skilled? Evidence from two German best-practice companies," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 396-418.
    7. Wotschack, Philip & Hildebrandt, Eckart, 2007. "Long-term working-time accounts and life-course policies: Preliminary results of a representative company survey," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2007-109, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

    More about this item


    working hours; life course policy; labour force participation; early retirement;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies


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