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Working-time flexibility is (not the same) for all: Evidence from a right-to-request reform

Gabriele Mari

No bnp9r, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Employed mothers often incur in a trade-off between lower wages and working-time flexibility, and such compensating differentials contribute to persistent gender gaps in labour markets. I ask to what extent working-time flexibility is sought after by those who are not parents of young children, if similar trade-offs may ensue, and with what consequences for disparities among and between women and men. I evaluate the effects of a 2014 reform that extended the “right to request” working-time flexibility from parents of young children to all employees in the UK. Using a difference-in-differences design, I find that women without young children reduce their working hours and move to part-time employment. These adjustments are coupled with a reduction in job-related stress and monthly earnings, but not hourly wage rates. Effects are sizeable, suggesting that right-to-request laws can enhance working-time flexibility within workplaces and mitigate gaps between women with and without children. This holds mainly for the tertiary-educated though, and, as no accompanying changes are observed among men, gender gaps in working hours and earnings are unintendedly amplified. Implications are drawn for both compensating differentials theory and working-time policies, also in light of the current surge in flexible working.

Date: 2020-11-09
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DOI: 10.31219/

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