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The Reduction of Working Hours as an Innovation for Global Labor Governance: A Quantitative Analysis on Working Hours and Gender Equality

Diskussionspapiere extern

Jana Pfenning

Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, 2023,
(Arbeitspapiere des Osteuropa-Instituts der Freien Universität Berlin, Arbeitsbereich Politik 87/2023)


The reduction of weekly working hours can lead to more gender equality on household level. In mixed-sex, two-adult households, the working hours of each household member have a significant effect on gender equality relevant variables. This was elaborated with a cross-sectional analysis of 2019 German Socio-Economic Panel data using OLS regressions with instrumental variables. Working hours have a strong negative effect on one's own household- and care time. Men or women having a reduced full-time work contract (32-36 hours per week stipulated in the work contract) creates more symmetry of paid- and unpaid work per sex. A partner's work time has a significantly negative effect on an individual's work time but a woman's work time is more influenced by her male partner's working hours than the other way around. The thesis finds evidence that if a man has a reduced full-time work contract, this encourages women to work more paid hours per week; for men it is the other way around. The effect of a partner's working time on an individual’s labor force participation is in all cases very small but significantly negative. The partner working under a reduced full-time work contract creates opposite results for men and women: It increases women's likelihood to participate in the labor market whereas it decreases men's probability to participate in the labor market.

Keywords: work time reduction, working hours, gender, global labor governance regime
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