The development accounting literature tries to account for cross-country output per worker differences by taking stock of inputs per worker. The data employed are often measured without great precision, however, making comparisons difficult. This column presents a new, internationally comparable dataset of average hours worked per adult across the world income distribution. Adults in poor countries are found to work a lot more and with lower productivity than those in rich countries. The findings suggest that those from poorer countries are not only ‘consumption poor’, but also ‘leisure poor’.
Alexander Bick, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, David Lagakos, 04 June 2016
Takanori Ago, Tadashi Morita, Takatoshi Tabuchi, Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 04 January 2016
There are common geographical differences in working hours between countries and regions. Working hours are longer in developing countries, as well as in more urbanised regions compared to rural ones. This column explains these differences with two key factors: production technology and urban agglomeration. Technological progress leads to a decrease in working hours, whereas urban agglomeration leads to an increase.
Holger Görg, Olivier Godart, Aoife Hanley, Christiane Krieger-Boden, 08 July 2014
Many firms are replacing traditional working hours with more flexible arrangements, reflecting new thinking on employee motivation. This column presents evidence from Germany that trust-based working time is associated with increased innovation. However, trust-based working hours also contribute to the blurring of workers’ professional and private lives, and may lead to excessive overtime. Careful design of trust-based working arrangements is required to reap the innovations gains while avoiding the health pitfalls.
Henry Saffer, Karine Lamiraud, 20 February 2008
People have fewer friends and visit them less often than in the past. A popular explanation suggests that we’re working longer and have less time for friends, but recent research finds little tradeoff between working hours and social hours. The relevant tradeoffs, this column suggests, are between types of social interaction.
Claudio Michelacci, Josep Pijoan-Mas, 17 September 2007
Today Americans work much more than Europeans, while this was not the case back in the 1970s. Have Europeans become lazier than Americans? Arguably not: differences in working time across the two sides of the Atlantic simply reflect differences in workers incentives over their working life.
Josep Pijoan-Mas, Claudio Michelacci, 28 May 2007
Since the 1970s, the number of hours worked per employee has fallen substantially in continental Europe, while it has remained roughly constant in the US. The authors of CEPR DP6314 show that this divergence in the number of hours worked per employee on the two sides of the Atlantic can be explained by the evolution of the respective labour market conditions over the last three decades.