The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Hours Worked (Long-Run Trends)

  • Jeremy Greenwood
  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke
Reference work entry


From 1830 to 2000 hours worked fell on two accounts: a drop in the market workweek and a decline in housework. The end result was that leisure rose. What caused this? The answer is technological progress. First, rising living standards implied that people could work less. Second, the introduction of new forms of leisure goods enhanced the value of time off. Third, time-saving household products reduced the need for housework. The time released allowed women to switch from home into market production. These points are illustrated with the use of historical evidence, economic theory, and numerical examples.


Edgeworth–Pareto complements and substitutes Elasticity of substitution Hours worked Household production Housework Income effects Leisure Non-market goods Real wage rates Recreation Substitutes and complements Taxation of labour income Technological progress Wealth effect Women’s work and wages 

JEL Classifications

D4 D10 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Greenwood
    • 1
  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke
    • 1
  1. 1.