Working Hours and Inequality, 1968-2001: A Family Perspective on Recent Controversies

Caroline Hanley, University of California, Berkeley
Publication Date:
Jan 2003
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

Debates about working hours elide the number of hours the average person spends on the job with the number of hours the average employed person spends on the job. Among married couples, the workweek of the average person increased by 8 hours while the workweek of the employed person increased by 2.5 hours between 1975 and 2001. Rising employment among married women produced the difference. We document workweek trends of all married persons and employed married persons and show how they affected (a) total family work hours, (b) family income inequality, and (c) Americans’ attitudes toward work. We also compare married couples with other household types and find that age and education have replaced gender and marital status as the main influences on paid work time.


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