Still at Work?

An Empirical Test of Competing Theories of the Long Hours Culture

Cowling M | Working Paper WP9 | Institute for Employment Studies | Jan 2007

There is increasing evidence of a widening in the cross-country dispersion in general working hours. More recently, however, there has been considerable attention given to the 'long hours culture' phenomenon identified in certain segments of the labour market, in particular amongst professional and managerial staff, and potential causes and impacts of such a culture.

In this study we use a large-scale European worker survey to test the validity of several competing hypotheses of why people work long hours.

Our results show that there is a labour/quality of leisure trade-off for women, but not for men. Other key determinants of long working hours are industry sector, occupational status, gender and job security proxied by employment contracts.