Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1139–1163 | Cite as

Work Shorter, Be Happier? Longitudinal Evidence from the Korean Five-Day Working Policy

  • Robert RudolfEmail author
Research Paper


This article uses detailed longitudinal data from the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study for the period 1998–2008 to analyze the happiness impact of working hours reductions on workers and their families. The major contribution to the literature is the use of an exogenous reduction in working hours, due to the Korean Five-Day Working Reform, in a subjective well-being (SWB) model. The findings indicate that reductions did not have the expected positive effects on worker well-being. While satisfaction with working hours increased, reductions had no impact on job and life satisfaction. Thus, long working hours might not be as negatively related to worker well-being as predicted by theory. Moreover, positive SWB effects might be offset by rising work intensity.


Exogenous working hours changes Happiness Work-family conflict Gender Interdependent well-being 



This paper benefitted from helpful comments from and fruitful discussions with Sung-jin Kang, Stephan Klasen, Carola Gruen, Jan van Ours, Seo-Young Cho, Nick Powdthavee, Maximilian Riedl, Insill Yi, Jaeho Keum, Kyunghee Chung, Stephan Litschig, and participants of the conferences “New Directions in Welfare” in Paris in 2011, the “Singapore Economic Review Conference” in Singapore in 2011, and the AKES conference in Seoul in 2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of International StudiesKorea UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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