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More Leisure or Higher Pay? A Mixed-methods Study on Reducing Working Time in Austria

Stefanie Gerold and Matthias Nocker

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 143, issue C, 27-36

Abstract: Working-time reduction has become a central topic in the debate on social-ecological transformation, as it has the potential to mitigate unemployment, improve well-being, and reduce environmental pressures. This article analyses which groups of employees want to reduce their working time, and for which reasons. A novel working-time policy in Austria, the leisure option, provides a unique possibility to examine this question. This policy enables employees to choose between a wage increase and more leisure time. We use a mixed-methods approach to analyse employees' preferences and the decision to reduce working time with two empirical parts run in parallel. A binary logit regression based on Austrian Microcensus 2012 data investigates factors associated with a preference for reduced working time. Qualitative interviews are conducted among employees at a firm in the electronics industry that offers the leisure option. Our results suggest that working-time preferences are to a large extent shaped by social norms, such as the full-time working norm and gender roles. We also find that the desire to work less is strongly moulded by personal values placed either on leisure and family time, or on financial security.

Keywords: Working-time reduction; Working-time policy; Preferences; Overemployment; Mixed methods; Labour supply (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J08 J22 J3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:27-36