The Effect of Adult Children’s Working Hours on Visits to Elderly Parents: A Natural Experiment in Korea

29 Pages Posted: 16 May 2017 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018

See all articles by Erin Hye-Won Kim

Erin Hye-Won Kim

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Changjun Lee

University College Dublin (UCD) - Spatial Dynamics Lab

Young Kyung Do

Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University Medical Research Center

Date Written: May 8, 2017

Abstract

Despite its significant policy implications, little is known about the impact working hours have on how often workers visit their elderly parents. Evidence is particularly lacking on men’s overtime work and workers in Asia. We examine the causal impact of male workers’ working times on parental visits, using a natural experiment to eliminate potential endogeneity bias. In 2004, the Korean government began reducing its legal workweek from 44 to 40 hours, gradually expanding it from larger to smaller establishments by 2011. Using annual longitudinal data from the 2005–2014 Korea Labor and Income Panel Study (N = 7,005 person-waves), we estimated an instrumental variable (IV) fixed-effects (FE) regression model. Our IV was an indicator variable of whether an individual full-time worker’s legal workweek was reduced to 40 hours in a given year. The results showed that working one additional hour a week lowered the frequency of visits by 6.5% (95% confidence interval [-13.0%, 0.0%]), which was not apparent in a FE model without the IV. Working long hours has implications for workers’ interactions with their elderly parents, and the failure to consider endogeneity in actual working hours may understate the negative effect. Reducing work hours may serve as an effective policy intervention for improving the well-being of older adults in rapidly aging Asian countries in a work-oriented and family-centered culture. We also highlight the need for further attention to men’s work hours, which are often considered much less important than women’s work status in population research on intergenerational support.

Keywords: Working hours, time with parents, legal workweek, instrumental variable, Korea

JEL Classification: D13, J22, J88

Suggested Citation

Kim, Erin Hye-Won and Lee, Changjun and Do, Young Kyung, The Effect of Adult Children’s Working Hours on Visits to Elderly Parents: A Natural Experiment in Korea (May 8, 2017). Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 17-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2964812 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2964812

Erin Hye-Won Kim (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

Changjun Lee

University College Dublin (UCD) - Spatial Dynamics Lab ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4
D04 V1W8
Ireland

Young Kyung Do

Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University Medical Research Center ( email )

103 Daehak-ro Jongno-gu
Seoul, 110-799
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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