Trends in Hours: The U.S. From 1900 to 1950

25 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2008 Last revised: 14 Dec 2008

See all articles by Guillaume Vandenbroucke

Guillaume Vandenbroucke

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

During the first half of the 20th century the length of the workweek in the United States declined, and its distribution across wage deciles narrowed. The hypothesis is twofold. First, technological progress, through the rise in wages and the decreasing cost of recreation, made it possible for the average U.S. worker to afford more time off from work. Second, changes in the wage distribution explain the changes in the distribution of hours. A general equilibrium model is built to explore whether such mechanisms can quantitatively account for the observations. The model is calibrated to the U.S. economy in 1900. It predicts 82% of the observed decline in hours, and most of the contraction in their dispersion. The decline in the price of leisure goods accounts for seven percent of the total decline in hours.

Keywords: Hours worked, leisure, home production, technological progress

JEL Classification: E24, J22, O11, O33

Suggested Citation

Vandenbroucke, Guillaume, Trends in Hours: The U.S. From 1900 to 1950 (2008). Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 237-249, January 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1143584

Guillaume Vandenbroucke (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ( email )

411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States
+1 314 444 8717 (Phone)

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