Are changes in the dispersion of hours worked a cause of increased earnings inequality?

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

IZA Journal of European Labor Studies


Daniele Checchi, Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa and Lara Vivian

Publication date


Earnings are the product of wages and hours of work; hence, the dispersion of hours can magnify or dampen a given distribution of wages. This paper examines how earnings inequality is affected by the dispersion of working hours using data for the USA, the UK, Germany, and France over the period 1989–2012. We find that hours dispersion can account for over a third of earnings inequality in some countries and that its contribution has been growing over time. We interpret the expansion in hours inequality in European countries as being the result of weaker union power that led to less successful bargaining concerning working hours.







Labour Economics and Wages And Earnings


Open Access; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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