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Cues for Coordination: Light, Longitude and Letterman

32 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2006  

Daniel S. Hamermesh

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Caitlin Knowles Myers

Middlebury College; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Mark Pocock

U.S. Department of Treasury - Office of Comptroller of the Currency

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

Market productivity is often greater, and leisure and other household activities more enjoyable, when people perform them simultaneously. Beyond pointing out the positive externalities of synchronicity, economists have not attempted to identify exogenous causes that affect timing. We develop a theory illustrating conditions under which synchronicity will vary and identify three factors - the amount of daylight, the timing of television programming, and the benefits of coordinating work schedules across a large country - that can alter timing. Using the American Time Use Survey for 2003 and 2004, we first show using a natural experiment that abstracts from the impacts of daylight hours and television timing that an exogenous shock to time in one area leads its residents to alter their work schedules to coordinate more closely with people elsewhere. We then show that both television timing and the benefits of coordinating across time zones in the U.S. generally affect the timing of market work and sleep, the two most time-consuming activities people undertake. These impacts do not, however, differ greatly by people's demographic characteristics, suggesting that longitude and television establish social norms that affect everyone.

Keywords: time use, labor supply, synchronous activities, time zones

JEL Classification: J22, E61

Suggested Citation

Hamermesh, Daniel S. and Myers, Caitlin Knowles and Pocock, Mark, Cues for Coordination: Light, Longitude and Letterman (April 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2060. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=895664

Daniel S. Hamermesh (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-475-8526 (Phone)
512-471-3510 (Fax)

Caitlin Knowles Myers

Middlebury College ( email )

Middlebury, VT 05753

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Mark L Pocock

U.S. Department of Treasury - Office of Comptroller of the Currency ( email )

400 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20219
United States

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