The 35-Hour Workweek in France: Straightjacket or Welfare Improvement?

Economic Policy, No. 55, pp. 417-463, July 2008

46 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2011

See all articles by Marcello M. Estevão

Marcello M. Estevão

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Western Hemisphere Department

Date Written: July 1, 2008

Abstract

Workweek reduction laws may be beneficial if market interactions do not fully take into account the preferences reflected in declining secular trends in working hours. The most recent law in France shortened the workweek from 39 to 35 hours in 2000 for large firms, and in 2002 for small firms. Analysing differences between large and small firm employees before and after the law, we find that aggregate employment was unaffected but labour turnover increased, as firms shed workers who became more expensive. Survey responses indicate that the welfare impact of the law was different across groups of workers: women but not men may have benefited from coordination to a shorter workweek, and there is also evidence of negative welfare effects for managers, possibly due to the law’s administrative burden.

Keywords: Workweek, coordination, job-sharing, welfare, 35-hour workweek, France

JEL Classification: E24, J22, C21

Suggested Citation

Estevao, Marcello M., The 35-Hour Workweek in France: Straightjacket or Welfare Improvement? (July 1, 2008). Economic Policy, No. 55, pp. 417-463, July 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1803282

Marcello M. Estevao (Contact Author)

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