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Men's actual and desired duration of working hours in Switzerland, France, Germany and the UK: effects of occupation and female partnership.

Applicant Bergman Manfred Max
Number 140322
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Soziologie Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Sociology
Start/End 01.04.2012 - 31.08.2014
Approved amount 111'363.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Sociology
Economics

Keywords (5)

hours; hours constraints; duration of working week; occupations; dual-earner couples

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

How do men’s hours of work relate to their occupation and, if they are partnered, to their partner’s work participation?

Aims

The focus of the research is how men’s actual and desired hours of work in Switzerland relate to occupation, and, for partnered men, to their partner’s earnings and hours. The secondary focus is a cross-national comparison of Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, recognising the further the role of regional variation, e.g. by linguistic region.

Background and Significance

In recent times the length of the working week has attracted renewed attention both as a marker of social inequality and as an instrument for achieving social objectives. In terms of social inequality, long hours have become symbolic of high status jobs and are in themselves a sign of status. Employers have increasingly used long hours as a way of screening workers’ commitment and productivity. In contrast workers in low status jobs would often like to work longer hours out of financial necessity, but are unable to do this because of the nature of the jobs they work in. In a policy context, interest has focussed on trying to limit workers’ hours for a variety of reasons. For example, in France a reduction in the length of the working week has been used as an instrument for tackling unemployment. Efforts to facilitate dual-earner couples have seen job hours’ flexibility and a reduction in hours as a means to achieve this end. Long hours not only heighten work-family conflict but also adversely affect health. Studying the duration of men’s working hours not only adds to our understanding of occupational status and men’s lives but it is also an endeavour to bring men back into the analysis of how societies, households, and gendered individuals manage paid work and unpaid care. The topic is of critical societal significance as is evidenced by a high proportion of working men reporting that their prefered hours of work are different from their actual hours.

Method

Employing quantitative analysis of the European Social Survey, the Swiss Household Panel and other panel survey, the aim is to assess the impact of two sociological influences. First, the extent to which occupational structure explains variation in male weekly hours of work.  Linked to this is men’s dissatisfaction with the duration of their weekly working hours by their occupation and education. Dissatisfaction may be illustrated if there is a ‘time divide’ or ‘time squeeze` in which high wage rate workers are dissatisfied with their long hours of work and low wage rate worker are dissatisfied with their short hours of work.Second, a unique angle of the proposed research is to explore men’s satisfaction with a female partner’s hours of work, which is critical if people experience the time squeeze because of the loss of someone to undertake the domestic work. Indeed, the rise in the proportion of dual-earner families may lead to increases in work-family conflict, which may exacerbate dissatisfaction in hours.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Leicester, School of Management Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Stanford University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
ILM Talks Individual talk Creativity, Overwork and Hours of Work: Male Managers in Europe and the New Spirit of Capitalism 31.10.2013 University of Cambridge, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Samuel Robin Leo;
Critical Management Conference Talk given at a conference . Creativity and work incentives: How do they relate to male managers’ overwork? 10.07.2013 Manchester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kanji Shireen;
SSA Congress 2013, Inequality and Integration in Times of Crisis Talk given at a conference Feeling overworked in Europe. The role of creativity and work incentives 27.06.2013 Bern, Switzerland Samuel Robin Leo;
Presentation at the University of Leicester, Centre for Labour Market Studies Individual talk NN 08.03.2013 University of Leicester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kanji Shireen;
European Social Survey Conference, Cyprus November 2012 Talk given at a conference What Has Self-Actualisation Got to Do with Overwork and Underwork in Europe? 23.11.2012 Nicosia, Cyprus Kanji Shireen;
Work and Family Researchers Network. Inaugural Conference Talk given at a conference Men’s Hours of Work: Do Female Partners Make a Difference? 17.06.2012 New York, United States of America Kanji Shireen;


Abstract

In recent times the length of the working week has attracted renewed attention as an instrument for tackling unemployment, as a means of facilitating dual-earner couples (Sousa-Poza and Henneberger, 2000) and because long hours can adversely affect health and heighten work-family conflict (Reynolds and Aletraris, 2007). However highly paid jobs require the long hours, which have become both a cause and an effect of inequalities between individuals and within couples. Studying the duration of men’s working hours brings men back into the analysis of how societies, households, and gendered individuals manage paid work and unpaid care. This is a pertinent issue in Switzerland where work-family conflict is high (Knecht et al., 2011). Thus, the focus of the proposed research is how men’s actual and desired hours of work in Switzerland relate to occupation, and, for partnered men, to their partner’s earnings and hours. The findings for Switzerland can only be fully interpreted with reference to international variation in economic structure, policies, legislation (including EU directives) and women’s participation. Thus, the secondary focus is a cross-national comparison of Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, recognising the further the role of regional variation, e.g. by linguistic region (Bühler, 1998; Buchmann, Kriesi and Sacchi, 2010).Employing quantitative analysis of the European Social Survey and the Swiss Household Panel, the aim is to assess the impact of two sociological influences. First, the extent to which occupational structure explains variation in male weekly hours of work (see Kanji, 2011). Linked to this is men’s dissatisfaction with the duration of their weekly working hours by their occupation and education. Dissatisfaction is illustrated in the ‘time divide’ (Jacobs and Gerson, 2004) in which high wage rate workers are dissatisfied with their long hours of work and low wage rate worker are dissatisfied with their short hours of work.. Second, a unique angle of the proposed research is to explore men’s satisfaction with a female partner’s hours of work, which is critical if people experience the time squeeze because of the loss of someone to undertake the domestic work. Indeed, Becker and Moen (1999) and Jacobs and Gerson (2004) link dual-earner families to increases in work-family conflict, which is related to dissatisfaction in hours (Reynolds and Aletraris, 2007). The project will extend our understanding of the time divide to the European context, contributing as follows to theory, empirical research and the evidence base. First, the project will assess how some occupations, such as professional and managerial occupations, transcend regional and national boundaries in setting the duration of the working week. These results will make a unique contribution to our understanding of how the duration of the working week relates to occupational structure and social stratification. Second, the project will make use of newly available data from the fifth round of the European Social Survey which permit for the first time a cross-national assessment of men’s satisfaction with their own hours of work and also, where relevant, with their partner’s hours of work. Third, the project adds to the evidence base with regard to work-family balance policies in Switzerland where reported work-family stress is high and norms about gender roles are changing.
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