Are the French Happy with the 35-Hour Workweek?

26 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2006

See all articles by Marcello M. Estevão

Marcello M. Estevão

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Western Hemisphere Department

Filipa Sá

King's College London; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: November 2006


Legally mandated reductions in the workweek can be either a constraint on individuals' choice or a tool to coordinate individuals' preferences for lower work hours. We confront these two hypotheses by studying the consequences of the workweek reduction in France from 39 to 35 hours, which was first applied to large firms in 2000. Using the timing difference by firm size to set up a quasi-experiment and data from the French labor force survey, we show that the law constrained the choice of a significant number of individuals: dual-job holdings increased, some workers in large firms went to small firms where hours were not constrained, and others were replaced by cheaper, unemployed individuals as relative hourly wages increased in large firms. Employment of persons directly affected by the law declined, although the net effect on aggregate employment was not significant.

Keywords: Workweek, coordination, job-sharing, welfare

JEL Classification: E24, J22, C21

Suggested Citation

Estevao, Marcello M. and Sa, Filipa G., Are the French Happy with the 35-Hour Workweek? (November 2006). IMF Working Paper No. 06/251, IZA Discussion Paper No. 2459, Available at SSRN:

Marcello M. Estevao (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Western Hemisphere Department ( email )

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Washington, DC 20431
United States
202-623-6038 (Phone)
202-589-6038 (Fax)

Filipa G. Sa

King's College London ( email )

150 Stamford Street
London, SE1 9NN
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072

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