restricted access The Time Divide in Cross-National Perspective: The Work Week, Education and Institutions That Matter
Abstract

Prior empirical studies have found that American workers report longer hours than do workers in other highly industrialized countries, and that the highly educated report the longest hours relative to other educational levels. This paper analyzes disparities in working hours by education levels in 17 high- and middle-income countries to assess whether this finding holds cross-nationally, for both men and women. In contrast to many prior studies of working time, we use a measure of weekly rather than annual hours worked, which we argue provides a better window on the discretionary time available to individuals and households. We find that the within-country gradient in average hours by education is not uniform: higher income countries are more likely to show the U.S. pattern, and middle-income countries show the reverse pattern, with the less educated reporting longer hours. We conclude by assessing some possible macrolevel explanations for this variation, including per capita gross domestic product, tax rates, unionization, country-level regulations, earnings inequality, and the regulation of weekly work hours.


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