July 2000

IZA DP No. 173: Timing, Togetherness and Time Windfalls

published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2002, 15 (4), 601-623

By examples this study illustrates that with the right data the analysis of time use, labor supply and leisure can and should move beyond the standard questions of the wage and income elasticities of hours supplied to the market. Four examples are presented here: 1) A model of the implicit market for working at different times of the day. Using American data from 1973 through 1997 I show that, following the prediction of the model, the amount of evening and night work in the U.S. has decreased; 2) Using the same model, the prediction that groups whose relative earnings have increased will experience a relative diminution of the burden of working at unpleasant times is verified using the same American data; 3) To study spouses' consumption of leisure one must study its temporal distribution, not how it is integrated over some long interval. Using U.S. data for the 1970s and 1990s I demonstrate that spouses' work schedules are more contemporaneous than would occur randomly, that contemporaneity among working spouses has diminished, and that, whereas in the 1970s the full-income elasticity of demand for contemporaneity was higher among wives than among husbands, by the 1990s these elasticities were equal; and 4) Using Dutch time-budget data for 1990 I examine how households respond to the natural experiment of receiving an extra hour of time in a day (the day when winter time was reestablished). The evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of the extra hour was used for extra sleep, except among single men, who used much of the extra time to play sports and watch television.