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Are we working less? An examination of changing UK labour supply decisions since the 1990s

Paul S. Jones and Muhammad Ali Nasir ()

Journal of Economic Studies, 2020, vol. 48, issue 1, 35-61

Abstract: Purpose - This purpose of the study is to examine the labour supply decisions with respect to earnings and considers whether we are willing or indeed able to work less. The authors specifically focus on the three points of time, i.e. beginning of the sample, pre and post Global Financial Crisis. Design/methodology/approach - The study regression analysis by utilises microdata from the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) regarding individual hours worked in three separate survey periods: 1994q2, 2007q2 and 2015q2 Findings - The results suggest that we are far from income-satiated. The elasticity of hours worked with respect to earnings is stubbornly inelastic and for some demographic cohorts positive, implying the desire to work more. The authors find that job flexibility matters in facilitating reduced hours of work, but that jobs are not becoming more flexible. The authors also do see a secular reduction in hours worked, accompanied by a shift to working later in life, but these appear to be down to factors other than higher wages. Research limitations/implications - The study has important research implications in terms of understanding the dynamics of the labour market on the whole and in the pre and post global financial crisis periods. Practical implications - The research has profound policy implication in terms of labour and employment policy. Social implications - There are important social implications, particularly in terms of household labour supply decisions and substitution between work and leisure. Originality/value - The study has significant element of originality in terms of understanding the changing dynamics of labour market. This is the first study which has investigated the labour market in the light of empirical evidence and in the various time periods.

Keywords: Labour supply; Employment; Hours of work; J21; J22; J23; J82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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