NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Labor Supply and the Value of Non-Work Time: Experimental Estimates from the Field

Alexandre Mas, Amanda Pallais

NBER Working Paper No. 23906
Issued in October 2017
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Labor Studies

We use a field experiment to estimate the marginal value of non-work time (MVT). During a national application process for phone survey and data entry positions, we randomly offered applicants alternative wage-hour bundles. Jobseeker choices over these bundles yield estimates for the MVT as a function of hours worked. These quantities trace out a labor supply relationship. As predicted by the conventional model of the allocation of time, the substitution effect is positive. Individual labor supply is highly elastic at low hours and becomes more inelastic at higher hours. For unemployed job applicants, the opportunity cost of a full-time job due to lost leisure, household production, and other non-work activities is approximately 60% of their estimated market wage. A similar estimate is found when we reproduce elements of this experiment in a nationally-representative survey.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23906

 
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