Working too much?

Sarah Jewell, University of Reading

Sarah Jewell

Co Authors
Marina Della Giusta

labour supply, time use, values, personality, job satisfaction

This paper addresses the role of different factors in explaining why so many people appear to be working more than the number of hours they desire to. There is now a large literature discussing the effects of both long working hours and work intensification on a range of outcomes including health, family relations and firm productivity (Burke and Cooper, 2008; Blyton et al, 2006). The causes of the phenomenon have been linked to both demand (screening through long hours by firms; Souza-Poza and Ziegler, 2003), and supply-side factors (increased competitive pressure, staff reductions, flattening hierarchies with more employees competing for fewer promotions, 24/7 work schedules enabled and intensified by new technologies, but also peer pressure and status races; Burke and Cooper, 2008; Bowles and Park, 2005). One third of the working population surveyed in the British Household Panel Survey in 2008 states that they would like to work fewer hours although they are in a job they like and are not income constrained. We test, using the British Household Panel Survey, the relative relevance of different factors discussed in the literature in determining both labour supply in general (participation and working hours), and the degree of satisfaction with working hours in particular, focussing in particular on the role of values and personality, both of which help to test supply side explanations put forward in the literature as well as suggesting alternative complementary ones.