July 2014

IZA DP No. 8304: Flexible Working and Couples' Coordination of Time Schedules

Using previously unexploited data on time scheduling in the employment and household contexts, we investigate the effect of flexible working on couples' coordination of their daily work time schedules in the UK. We consider three distinct dimensions of flexible working: flexibility of daily start and finish times (flexitime), flexibility of work times over the year (annualised hours), and generalised control of working hours. We find that in couples with flexitime there is greater spouse synchronization in daily working times by nearly one hour. The effect is driven by couples with dependent children. However, we find the effect in couples with children of any age (under 16), suggesting it does not stem from the childcare requirements of young children. Robustness checks indicate that flexitime is not endogenous, suggesting that an expansion of flexitime would increase couples' work time coordination. There is less evidence that broader control over working hours increases daily synchronous working time and no evidence that annualised hours increase synchronous time on a daily basis. The weaker relationships with daily synchronous time for these two flexibility measures are consistent with their broader scope (control over amount of hours as well as timing) and longer time span.