Preferred working hours: Variations across time and space

Noah Lewin-Epstein*, Lior Kadish, Anat Oren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The chapter examines the preferences for working hours among men and women in twenty countries, at two points of time (1997 and 2005). The main question is what factors underlie these differences at the individual and the country level. To answer this question, data from the Work Orientation module are analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). Findings reveal that among full-time working men and women the proportion that would prefer to reduce work time is larger than the proportion that would like to increase it. In most cases this tendency is stronger among women. Women working part time, however, appear to comprise two distinct groups-those who lack opportunities for fuller employment, and those who are reluctantly employed and would prefer to work even less. At the country level, Sweden was found to have the lowest proportion of mismatches between actual and preferred work hours, while Israel and Bulgaria have among the highest proportions. Worker preferences are significantly related to perceived stress at work and perceived income and job security (women only). The observed effects of job-related stress seem to speak to the issue of the work-life balance. The findings also suggest that there is a strong socio-economic dimension underlying the preferences for work time. Among macro-level variables, only the level of economic development and unemployment rates (for men) are significantly related to work-time preferences. Lastly, time has a positive significant effect, indicating a decline in the preference for shorter (rather than longer) hours between 1997 and 2005.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Social Survey Programme 1984-2009
Subtitle of host publicationCharting the Globe
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)0203880056, 9780203880050
StatePublished - 5 Aug 2009


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