Does Labor Legislation Benefit Workers? Well-Being after an Hours Reduction

Daniel S. Hamermesh, Daiji Kawaguchi, Jungmin Lee

NBER Working Paper No. 20398
Issued in August 2014
NBER Program(s):   LS

Are workers in modern economies working "too hard"--would they be better off if an equilibrium with fewer work hours were achieved? We examine changes in life satisfaction of Japanese and Koreans over a period when hours of work were cut exogenously because employers suddenly faced an overtime penalty that had become effective with fewer weekly hours per worker. Using repeated cross sections we show that life satisfaction in both countries may have increased relatively among those workers most likely to have been affected by the legislation. The same finding is produced using Korean longitudinal data. In a household model estimated over the Korean cross-section data we find some weak evidence that a reduction in the husband's work hours increased his wife's well-being. Overall these results are consistent with the claim that legislated reductions in work hours can increase workers' happiness.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20398

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Jayachandran w20380 The Roots of Gender Inequality in Developing Countries
Beaudry, Green, and Sand w20568 In Search of Labor Demand
Edwards and Garcia Marin w20475 Constitutional Rights and Education: An International Comparative Study
Glaeser and Nathanson w20426 Housing Bubbles
Komlos w20379 Has Creative Destruction Become More Destructive?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us