Are work hours allocated justly and efficiently?

That is the topic of my latest NYT column for The Upshot.  Here are some excerpts:

In short, most older people already enjoy a much better deal than Keynes had predicted for the entire work force. The 1930 Keynes essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” didn’t even mention retirement, perhaps because he was accustomed to a world in which so many people worked until they died or were seriously disabled.

Teenagers are also ahead of Keynes’s workplace predictions. Several decades ago, about 55 percent of teenagers had jobs, but lately only about 35 percent do. In addition, service sector jobs have been replacing jobs involving manual labor. While enormous disparities exist among teenagers of different races and income groups, over all, life has gotten easier for them.


If people in all of these groups are working less, then someone must be working more. The answer, overwhelmingly, is women, who have taken on an Atlaslike role in supporting American economic growth.

There are reasons to believe that at least some of the growth in female work hours has been an unfair burden. It is well known, for instance, that men do not come anywhere close to fully sharing in the household chores or child rearing when their partners are working, and that often means more stress for women. Furthermore, the best available evidence, from Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, both professors of public policy at the University of Michigan (Mr. Wolfers is also a regular contributor to this column), suggest that overall female happiness in America has been declining, while age-adjusted death rates for middle-aged white women — though not for white men — have been increasing. Those troubling trends are perhaps another sign that the distribution of stress has been uneven.

Many men are working too little, and perhaps many women too much.  But why isn’t there more smoothing of leisure over time?

On the other hand, many women do receive significant recompense in leisure time eventually — once they become older. Because women on average live longer than men, they are likely to have more years in retirement. Yet it is a strange society that disproportionately bunches much work and stress for so many women in the middle of their lives, and rewards them only much later with leisure. It is a kind of feast or famine for work, leisure and earnings.

Most economic models don’t account for these patterns, and instead assume that people engage in what is called smoothing behavior, in which leisure and work is evenly distributed across the years. Yet Americans as a whole are not experiencing that kind of moderation.

That is the real labor supply puzzle, and I don’t know of any consistent model which explains that along with other basic labor supply facts.


People may be targeting dates (or retirement incomes) as a commitment mechanism rather than smoothing between the two. Tradition here also weighs heavy on our behaviours. Also, retirement income products, legislation, and employer contracts probably don't lend themselves to blurred boundaries between work and retirement. People may be less interested in the right smoothing than they are in attaining a satisfactory level of financial independence as soon as they can.

This reminds me of how people explicitly target the day when they finish paying off their houses; clearly they're not targeting any kind of optimal capital structure, they just don't want to owe the bank anymore.

+10. We see this in lots of things - various "economist" types will come and say "it's more efficient to rent/lease than to own a dwelling/car/boat" - and always miss the political and stability aspects, the fact that rental/lease products and bought products often aren't actually interchangeable, that in some markets there are no products to lease, and so on.

What do people like? Things that they perceive as better and more secure - house is paid for, the bank can't take it. Pension and healthcare are set, and as reliable as anything else in life.

Given that life, earnings, health, and whatever else may change with time is really uncertain, a scheme in which all of one's obligations and commitments in life are fully discharged as early as possible has huge merit....

Aside - the comments about men not "stepping up" or teenagers not working so much miss market realities - lots of jobs teenagers used to be able to do are now either off limits due to safety concerns, or dominated by professional orgs of one kind or another (think landscapers...)

So one reality is that "the market won't take you until you are ripe, and once you are past ripe it doesn't want you, so you'd best make your best shot in the labor market at the appointed time" - this will per force generate the "work like mad in the middle take it easy before and after"

As you yourself have stated, men are brutes ill equipped for the workplace. Thankfully the ladies have stepped up.

Now, now, only some men - amazingly enough, the CEO class of men is eminently suited to be where they are. And a quick glance at the GMU econ faculty page - - easily shows that at least at GMU, that few women are as suited as a man for a tenured position.

Prof. Cowen is very familiar with a workplace where men are in charge, with women are essentially in a supporting role -

Men are "brutes" and thus have a strong aversion to doing "women's work" in the workplace and especially in the home (where there likely will never be equality in time spent doing household chores).

Yes, men are more interested in masculine types of work, like trolling on the internet and building their porn and anime collections.

If you think anime and a carefully curated collection of erotic media is more a male predilection than female, there's a thing called tumblr that may enlighten you otherwise. (Pop culture ref: So many millennial girls basically = Tina Belcher. Millennial boys, possibly less).

Did you even read my post? You are not even close to addressing my point.

The title of the post is "Are work hours allocated justly and efficiently?" The claim that the burden of work is unjust presupposes that equality between the sexes is just and possible. I question whether it is. In addition, men do more-but not an equal amount of--household chores as they approach retirement age. Thus smoothing occurs when the marginal benefits to women are declining.

I will plead ignorance here. Isn't the obvious explanation for why work is "bunched" in midlife instead of work and leisure spread evenly across years that people are more productive in midlife than in old age? Hence, opportunity cost of leisure is higher in midlife than in old age. This seems so obvious that, when Tyler says he knows of no model that explains this puzzle, I assume that this explanation has long been debunked. What is the reason that work bunching cannot be explained by productivity peaking in midlife and declining as old age sets in?

On the uneven distribution of household chores between husbands and wives when both work, has anyone given serious consideration to the possibility that, for whatever reason, wives gain relatively more from their husbands' working than husbands gain from their wives' working? This difference is compensated for by the difference in household chores. For example, perhaps a larger fraction of husbands' earnings are spent on shared household expenses and a larger fraction of wives' earnings are spent on wives' personal consumption (clothing, luxury goods, etc.) Also, although things are changing somewhat, divorce settlements at least in the past have tended to award alimony from husband to wife more often than from wife to husband. Thus, wives may have more incentive to do housework to get their husbands to work more outside the home than husbands have incentive to do housework to get their wives to do more work outside the home. I'm not sure how "unequal bargaining power" can apply, especially in households where women are capable of earning income outside the home. Since there are roughly equal numbers of men and women in marriage markets, men have as many competitors vying for a wife as women have competitors vying for a husband. In any event, with millions of marriage market participants, it's hard to see how any single person could have so many spouses that they could actually move prices; everyone is a price taker.

Also, people gain human capital from working (gain experience, new skills, etc.) or at least prevent human capital depreciation (skills getting "rusty"). Human capital is more valuable when gained earlier in life since it can be used for a longer period. Presumably, for example, this is why few people go to medical school in their 60s: even if they have the ability to get through, they won't get to be a doctor for very long.

For most people, opportunity cost of leisure from human capital loss is very high until they become seniors. Again, though, it seems so obvious that leisure is more (opportunity) costly for non-seniors than for seniors that, when Tyler says he knows of no model that explains this labor supply puzzle, I feel like I am missing something. Am I?

A very good point, but keep in mind that same wage effect conflicts with a lot of the time series evidence, as it predicts just about everyone should be working more...

"Isn’t the obvious explanation for why work is “bunched” in midlife instead of work and leisure spread evenly across years that people are more productive in midlife than in old age?"

I am wondering about this too - and I can think of at least one commonly used economic framework (overlapping generations models) where you would see this kind of effect. It isn't difficult, I think, to write a model that predicts that people work more in their middle years. The problem is that such models also tend to predict that as societies get richer, people cut back on working and consume more leisure - but we are seeing the opposite taking place.

I am also not sure how much headway we can make with models that assume people can just freely choose how much to work and how much leisure to consume. The reality for many people in the workplace is that they are in a competitive environment where they either work insanely hard and climb up the corporate ladder, or slack off and drift down. I have seen this kind of logic used to explain why CEO salaries are so high, but maybe it can also explain why people work way too hard.

"Slack off and drift down" would be an example of human capital depreciation cost of leisure, like not maintaining a machine. When one consumes leisure, one not only loses present earnings, one also could be sacrificing future earnings. This human capital depreciation effect would seem less important for people that are older (and hence have less future earnings to lose). So, if most people's peak earning years are in their 40s and 50s, then too much leisure in their 30s can be quite costly in terms of lost earnings in their 40s and 50s. People in their 40s and 50s face high cost of leisure due to high present earnings. That leaves people in their early 20s to backpack around Europe (and still have time to build human capital in their late 20s and 30s) and people in their 60s and 70s to take guided tours around Europe. Leisure is cheapest in old age and second cheapest right before starting one's career.

I believe the reality you point to for "many" is in truth only a very small minority.

Most Americans work in jobs with minimal prospects for advancement beyond their present level (or a very small step up). Related to that, a large share of these workers are doing work that they either simply cannot maintain later into life or that brings with it exponential decreases in marginal net utility.

It's rather akin to the well documented issues with those of us with low six figure household earnings, putting us in the top quintile, yet still leaving us talking about our middle class lifestyles.

midlife is more productive for blue collar workers, sure, but not white collar. Ever notice that the CEO's of all companies are almost all old, at least 50, more likely 60+? That is certainly not an outcome we would expect if workers were most productive at midlife. For white collar workers, the knowledge/experience gained outweighs physical deterioration well into their later stages of life.

And yet "knowledge work" like IT tends to prefer its workers to be under 50.

I suspect thats just because anyone older missed out on the chance to develope the skills needed in the IT field. Are you positing that at a certain age workers become less efficient in the IT field (before becoming senile at least). This could be true, but I have a hard time identifying any mechanism for why this would be so.

Just one word, a single one, would help explain why using Keynes to frame this is a bit of a misdirection - 'That is the real American labor supply puzzle, and I don’t know of any consistent model which explains that along with other basic labor supply facts.'

The U.S. does not share the EU minimum of 20 days vacation per year for every employee (most EU countries have a higher minimum, particularly when including paid holidays) - In other words, 'leisure' in the U.S. has a long way to go before looking like something approaching what it is in countries.

Nor is it likely that Keynes discussed something like parental leave either, as the U.S. does not share the general Western European approach to paid time off (6 weeks in Germany) for a pregnant woman approaching birth, nor does the U.S. provide the support of parental leave that is also common in the EU. As a matter of fact, as so often the case, the U.S. stands proudly almost alone in this area too - 'Parental leave has been available as a legal right and/or governmental program for many years, in one form or another. In 2014, the International Labour Organization reviewed parental leave policies in 185 countries and territories, and found that all countries except Papua New Guinea have laws mandating some form of parental leave. The United States and Lesotho, while they do mandate unpaid parental leave, are the only other countries that do not require employers to provide paid time off for new parents.'

All that paid parental leave and vacation in Germany and yet the gap between men and women in the amount of time spent doing household chores is greater in Germany than in the U.S. ( Americans really should follow the example of their more "progressive" German counterparts.

"Divorce settlements at least in the past have tended to award alimony from husband to wife more often than from wife to husband"

Yeah, that is the trend. In the early 2000s, divorced women were paying alimony 70 percent of the time to the husband but recently more divided after the backlash. Men get alimony about half the time in 2016.

(eye roll)


I think he probably misunderstood the phrasing "alimony from husband to wife".

if you take into account the fall in the fertility rate and healther. chidren (due to better drugs ) as well as the labor saving household appliances it is not clear that women are working more now that the did inthe1920. In most societies women have always worked more that men if you count pregnancy and childcare as work.

We should always consider pregnancy and childcare as unpaid work for women.

Strange that a libertarian would fail to argue that the "burden" on women is due to choice and natural social dynamics. The dignity of individual choice merely a tactic?

I mean, TC is aping the rhetoric of social justice movements and technocrats, here?

Look at the audience for which he wrote.

Yes TC probably needs to kowtow to the editors of the NYT if we wants to get published there.

Sorry to be bit if a nag here but there's is minor typo in the beginning of the post. "Uupshot" should be "Upshot."

My impression is that untaxed housework was hugely time consuming for most women below the highest ranks of society until the postwar era. For example, my family was probably somewhere around the 75th percentile in standard of living, but my mother didn't have a clothes dryer until the mid-1960s.

Over time, however, the amount of housework required to make a home dropped considerably (and the introduction of antibiotics meant that fanatical cleanliness was less important to keeping children alive). In response to this new reality, there was a very rapid ideological change from about 1969-1973 in terms of social expectations about married women working.

Not all that much has changed since then.

Fanatical cleanliness by women as keeping people healthy is about as dubious as fanatical fitness and sports by men keeping everyone healthy!

Its a status and self esteem game and ever was (so is it "unfair" if the men don't want to play?).

I'd think a bit more about that. There are lots of things that seemingly don't make sense that we do, but a few generations ago meant a healthier family. Cutting the grass for example.

We have been spoiled by antibiotics. I think everyone here has had an infection that could have led to death pre antibiotics.

This. Women spend more time on household chores because they self-impose unnecessarily high standards of cleanliness and decorum. This is primarily because other women will judge them negatively if they fail to hew to a certain standard.

The patriarchy has nothing to do with it, and Tyler's "woe for the women" tone is uncalled for.

By research, cleaning yourself twice a week is sufficient; that's why prison only have showers twice per week.

I think that these things are always more complicated than they appear on the surface. Note that houses in your mother and grandmother's eras were much smaller on average. The average house size in 1950 was 1000 square feet, and now that is more like 2500 square feet. Many fewer outfits per person too. So, improvements in technology have reduced the work per square foot or item, but we deal with a lot more than we used to. Vacuums are certainly better now than then, for example, but vacuuming 2500 square feet of mixed carpet, tile and hardwoods now likely takes as long as doing 1000 square feet with a more primitive vacuum. Dusting takes as long now as then per item/square feet, but houses have much more to dust now than then. On the other hand, dishwashers are an unambiguous win. Fewer outfits and a culture of wearing things more often between washing meant that laundry without a dryer was less exhausting then than it would be with modern laundry volumes. (Do you remember shirts sold with removable, multiple collars, so that men could wear them multiple days?)

+1, we've created a lot of additional housework over the last 60 years

More delegation of duties.

TC: "Teenagers are also ahead of Keynes’s workplace predictions. Several decades ago, about 55 percent of teenagers had jobs, but lately only about 35 percent do." - did Tyler write this tongue-in-cheek? (voluntarily unemployed).

I have retired in my 50s, but then again my family net worth is over $10M, and I just received a large inheritance from a Greek relative who died without issue. So I can afford to travel the world and date girls half my age. But you can too! To quote a line from a Billy Joel song, "all you need is looks and a whole lotta money".

Which of your relatives will get your money when you die without issue?

Are work hours allocated justly and efficiently?

Since when is TC concerned with "just" allocations of things? In my reading of TC in MR, I have never come across the notion that something can be efficient without being just.

How does a libertarian economist determine when something is or isn't "just"?

I applaud Tyler for laying the groundwork and coming out in his support, subtle though it is, for

Pre-K and Daycare subsidies and

Family Medical Leave

To lift the burden from working women's shoulders.

He should be applauded for his courage in pointing out the need to balance the lives of working women..

Daycare should be fully tax deductible for dual-income families. It makes absolutely no sense for it not to be. Government revenue would increase (unpaid mothers become working mothers + tax-paying daycare providers), GDP rises, mothers get the freedom to work if they want to and if it makes economic sense. What is the downside? How could daycare not be a business expense for dual-income families?


I want to hear from Tyler's and Alex's wife,

How does your husband divide the work responsibilities in the household.

Is it fair.

You can reply anonymously below without fear of retribution..

Bad English, unless someone here is a Mormon. I mean Tyler's and Alex's wife, each respectively. Sorry.

Mormons do not allow two men to share a wife, by the way. That would be against the natural order as originally promoted by that religious movement, which was one man being able to marry multiple women.

I vote for polygamy. This would increase competition among males, leading to a more meritocratic society. I would also make it gender neutral. So, wives could have multiple wives.

"So, wives could have multiple wives." -- Seems very gender neutral -- being sarcastic.

"Tyler's and Alex's wives" is probably the most correct way of writing that.

I didn't want to rule out any combination, as long as it is consensual.

What is most correct anyway?

The one grammarians would suggest. In this case, the assumption is going to be that Alex and Tyler have one wife each, and there are two wives in total-then the possessive " 's" is applied to each individually, as I remember the rule. For example, if Tyler and Alex owned a house together, it would be written, "Tyler and Alex's house", but if they owned different houses, then it becomes "Tyler's and Alex's houses". The alternatives to rewriting that sentence to reach the same understanding are just awkward, as you demonstrated.

Actually, the second question, "most correct", in your preceding reply, is interesting as well. It's either correct or incorrect, but "most correct" implies a correctness relativism, which I can accept, but which more rigid members of the this website might reject. Or mostly reject.

How could you write this piece and not once mention single parenthood?

Glad I decided to scan the comments before lighting into Cowen. It does seem a huge omission to me.

"Most economic models don’t account for these patterns, and instead assume that people engage in what is called smoothing behavior, in which leisure and work is evenly distributed across the years."

Really? That seems odd given that leisure and work have not been evenly distributed (in the west anyway) since at least the end of child labor and the creation of the first old-age pensions -- both more than a century ago.

"Because women on average live longer than men, they are likely to have more years in retirement."

Not just because they live longer, but also because they retire at a younger age. In the U.S. women live 5 years longer (81 vs 76) and retire 2 years earlier (62 vs 64) -- an extra 7 years of leisure compared to their male counterparts. Of course, if we follow the Althouse rule, perhaps we can recast that as well. All those male layabouts kicking back in their graves providing no help at all while their wives are stuck with 100% of the housework.

Being a man, I couldn't care less how much women work. In the earlier stages of civilization it was the lot of most women to work from dawn to dusk and it still is in much of the world. Tribal females spent their entire day finding and processing food, producing and mending clothing, cleaning and taking care of their children. American women currently do none of that, having it easier than any women anywhere ever before. When's the last time you heard a lady say she couldn't go to the movies because she had to stay home and darn socks?

The two sexes have assumed different roles in the family structure for obvious reasons of biology. The movements of the post-sixties to negate reality and erase differences that are a part of the fabric of the species are silly. Men that encourage that kind of thinking are feeble-minded traitors to their sex.

clearly the penis is too heavy and cumbersome to allow the man to perform household chores. a veritable peacock's tail.

Nothing worse than being a traitor to one's sex. Who would stoop so low?

I must admit, back in my youthful years, I would shamelessly ditch my male buddies in favor of time spent with a fair member of the opposite sex.

Maybe because most jobs are not staffed in redundant ways - a job function has to be online / available every weekday. To have a smoother distribution of leisure and work, one would need work functions to be always fulfilled by more than one person, possibly 1.5 for 33% extra leisure time. And then there is the coordination problems between redundant labor providers - not more than a certain number should be on vacation simultaneously. Seems complicated for management.

A number 'pink collar' jobs are like that -- job-sharing, part-time work, and transitions in and out of the labor force are feasible and common. And women gravitate to these fields for these reasons. K12 has always been that way (summers free and no real worries about outdated skills when taking a few years off), and most medical jobs are as well (and have become more so over time as small, independent practices have become rarer). These jobs also have the characteristic of being standardized, common and widely distributed. A nurse, therapist, or pediatrician may practice or a teacher may teach anywhere in the country -- and since these occupations are numerous, it's unlikely to be long between job openings.

In the private sector, specialization and coordination problems are more of an issue. And I believe there is another important factor pushing back against more leisure there. If you are an employer and offer the option of more vacation in lieu of higher pay, you may well find employees who find this very attractive -- but what kind of employees? The most ambitious and hard-working? Or on the opposite end of the spectrum? I think it's pretty obvious that's why employers are so stingy with vacation time in the first few years of employment, especially with entry level positions -- to filter out slackers. Once employees have proved themselves over a period of years, it's then safe to offer them more time off.

Simply not true. Only a small fraction of the jobs out there are even minimally specialized and the majority of jobs are for relatively large firms, which have many people doing similar work.

A classic NYT story - women and children hardest hit.

Many good answers above.

I think we can add that financial planning is hard, and most people don't even try. They just sort of do the things they see their peers doing.

There is a dumb commercial running now where a guy sees his neighbor with a new BMW, and the voiceover says that if he can afford the lease, you can too.

Most people operate at that level, and drift into retirement age with a history more than a plan.

As for teenagers I question the reduced employment measure, in two ways. Is employment measured by payroll numbers? That disregards kids with cash jobs, such as dog walking and yard work. Also how is work defined? Many high schoolers I know spend grueling hours in PSAT and SAT prep and additional course work over the summer. Their commitment to education is preparation for the work force that is not captured in employment or job training numbers.

As for women, attractiveness usually means more opportunity. Ergo investment in appearance is likewise an investment in earning power.

The concept of leisure time smoothing is a chimera. No such thing exists. The only solution my husband and I found to smooth leisure was to give up my salary (greater than his) so he could adapt to a 60/80 hour week and I managed healthcare support for 4 family members, set up any leisure events and managed our investments. It was a full time job. There is no smoothing given the social and cultural expectations in the US workplace. Economists do not measure the right things in the right ways to account for the effort involved.

I would assume the data behind this is the household survey, so it is unlikely cash jobs are being missed. And it is paid work being counted, so prepping for exams is properly excluded, as is Ray's vigorous skirt chasing in his retirement.

Is anybody but me a bit suspicious of the factoid "men don't do their share of housework"?

I looked at one of these in detail, and in the definition of "housework" they excluded a lot of things that are needed to maintain the household but that men usually do in heterosexual couples, such as dealing with the car or the roof or the physical yard work.


Not speaking to quantities of "time", but it seems realistic that types of housework are distinct. If it involves crawling under the house for any reason, the guy probably does it. Like you mention, yard work is likely done more by men. On hot days working in the yard for a couple of hours can feel like many multiples of time spent working indoors.

I personally like cooking (I'm a male) and think that's an area guys might like if they want to take up an extra job around the house. Way more interesting than cleaning up which my wife does. I also spend a _lot_ of time with finances/investments. I'm unsure if that counts in household productivity, but consider decisions in those areas one of the more important we can make.

Tyler, Tyler, Tyler ... you link to one Pew Research Center page, but ignore this one:

So specifically looking at marriages where both spouses are working. The combination of housework, child care, and paid work is virtually the same for fathers and mothers in dual income households.

"Among parents who are married or living with a partner, dual-income couples are the most egalitarian couples, even though they do not divide up their work in a 50-50 way. Dual-income fathers spend about 11 hours more than mothers in paid work per week, but mothers make up their hours by spending more time on average time in child care and housework. Dual-income fathers have more leisure time than mothers; the gap is about 4.5 hours per week."

Now how do fathers have more leisure time than mothers if they balance out time on housework, child care, and paid work?

Pew explains, but I'm not satisfied:

"Free time is usually measured by the residual time after subtracting time spent in paid work, housework, child care, commuting and personal care, while leisure time is more about time spent in activities that relate to relaxation. Between 2003 and 2008, fathers had on average 32 hours per week of free time; mothers had 31 hours.32 Fathers also had more leisure time than mothers, as discussed earlier in the chapter using 2003 to 2011 ATUS: On average, fathers spend about 28 hours per week on leisure activities, roughly three hours more than mothers."

If Pew broke out data on personal care and commuting, based on fathers in dual-income relationships working about the same (paid work, child care, etc) as the mothers, but having more leisure, the residual should be more time by mothers in personal care and commuting. So here's a question, are households locating based on the father's employment, given he is likely to earn more, and increasing commuting times for mothers?

Whatever happened to Efficient Market Hypothesis. Or to Gary Becker.

Things are the way they are because that's the way they are.

Work allocation reflects bargaining power and the relative value of one persons contribution (and alternative uses of time) relative to the other.

I know they teach this at the University of Chicago.

And, I've even used this argument, successfully, so as not to do the dishes.

My time is too valuable. Can't you see I'm on the computer, commenting.

LOL. And so totally worth it! Extremely high value comment. More of these please.

Interesting development TC has made from hard facts obsessed libertarian to SJW redistributionist. I always thought TC would see how the assumption of people are fungible and resulting open borders aspect of libertarianism does not hold up and therefore turn to closed the borders (the evolution I went through) Instead he doubled on the SJW. I have not seen that in anyone else (Mamet, Kaus, Simon etc)

And with respect to this post, just wow. As long as women live four years longer on average, how can according to the absurd metrics TC uses here, stress be equally divided. Women wanted to work and now they are unhappy. In the limit a men's only value is in his labor, a women's value can be childbearing or labor. And what Slocum, Zeitgeisty and chuck martel are saying.

No need for me to read or comment on this site anymore, I can read the same women are wonderful claptrap on Nation or Salon any time if the day If I wanted to.

door hit you, good lord split you, etc.

Working is a privilege, not a burden.

And, starving is the default option.

Do men work too little? If the toll of work is taken into account? (Different types of jobs are accompanied by different types of demands and stressors.)

Maybe they do. Or maybe they don't.

I'm thinking of those studies that show that in societies where men are socially free to choose occupations that they intrinsically like (because status and associated rewards, especially mating rewards, have been decoupled from occupation), they make completely different choices. They choose low-stress, non-competitive jobs (often working w/ their hands to produce a tangible output). And when free to do this, the gender-based mortality gap dramatically decreases. A lack of control over job choice, and competitive, stressful jobs, may not be good for your health.

I'm also thinking of the willpower depletion literature. Some jobs deplete you physically, mentally, and/or emotionally more than others.

Might be worth considering...

I'm also thinking that superwomen, i.e., the smart, ambitious, career-oriented climbers who try to "have it all", probably have it worst (high-toll jobs plus more work at home).

How about return to the 72 hour work week.

12 hours per day, no work on Sabbath (not Saturn's Day).

That is the real labor supply puzzle, and I don’t know of any consistent model which explains that along with other basic labor supply facts.

This isn't a model, but I wonder if jobs are less able to be partitioned than they once were, and/or if jobs reward the accretion of extensive skills / knowledge / experience in a way that means rewards accrue to the workers who do the most, as seems to happen in software, law, and similar fields.

In that world, working full-time makes sense and working very little can make sense, but a mix doesn't make sense and isn't rewarded by employers / clients / markets.

Women! Can't live with them. Can't live without them. My wife went nuts when I mopped the bathroom floor using the toilet (I flushed it first) as a mop bucket. And, she still tells me to mop the floors. Go figure.

"Most economic models don’t account for these patterns . . . " Centrally planned and administered markets under-perform (and the markets are blamed). Models made by fallible man will be fallible. There are far too many variables and rational players for any model. Here's a layman's translation: arrogant, credentialed ideologues being mugged by reality.

Yup, do it wrong the first time. That usually ends my cleaning career.

Maybe if you don't flush first you can get out of the mopping duties.

Right. It didn't work with the Warden. She has zero sense of humor, too.

If she is the Warden, she should get paid more than the prisoner.

What basis can you have for concluding that many men are working too little and many women too much? Why couldn't it be that both men and women are working too much, but men less so (though I am skeptical of a lot of the basis for saying there is a significant discrepancy, as it relies on self-reporting and appears to treat any work described as "full-time" as the same).

As to the underlying issue, it may be that we see lumpy work and leisure choices because most people prefer consuming leisure in the form of complete freedom from work for a long period of time. The test of this would be to ask which of the following two choices would be most popular: work the next year full time and take the following year completely off from work, or work half-time for the next two years.

Now, you may get more lumpiness than this in the labor market, where we see long retirenements and not so many 1-2 year breaks, because it can be hard to re-enter the labor force after such gaps. Employers suspect there is something wrong with you.

So I suspect without that labor market dynamic, we would see more people taking 1-2 year sabatticals while delaying retiement. But even then there would be a bias toward a final retirement because of cash flow issues, eventual loss of human capital from aging, and from child-rearing (it may be less attractive to just take a year or two off if your kids are in school and you are pretty thoroughly tied to that location and routine anyway).

Or, alternatively, people may prefer retirement-type leisure, where their ideal leisure is one in which they never have to face the prospect of working again.
This preference could exist even if people ultimately get bored in complete retirement and try to go back to work, or regret not taking more, shorter sabatticals early in life. We aren't so great at knowing how we will feel about a situation when we aren't actually experiencing it, so we could be over-rating the idea of complete retirement and under-rating the idea of periodic sabatticals throughout our working lives.


Part of this bunching is structural. I asked my previous employer about part-time option, and it just wasn't an option for the job (analyst) that I had. I would've loved some way to make a 3-4 day weekend every weekend to give me time to pursue some other interests.

Re: leisure time: I can't imagine my situation is particularly different from most laborers-- I'm trying to build a career and earn money now. Who knows what the future will bring? And why would an employer want me for 30 hours a week while giving me all the benefits and insurance of someone who works 40 or 50 hours a week?

Women are too kind. They should have taught their kids to cook. Perhaps it's a problem of delegation.

The way this country is going, we will see a rebirth of domestic servants serving the wealthy. Will we be Britain or the Philippines?

When my dad was a child (1960s), he would just "go out and play," which must have provided his parents with more leisure time. Today I worry that if I let my child "go out and play" the police will take him away. If we are talking about government regulations such as maternity leave, why not bring this up? Some equivalent to Good Samaritan Laws - a simple legal defense for parents.
Secondly, I enjoy spending time with my son up to a point. No statistic differentiates "work" from "leisure" childcare that I know of. To record who is doing the unpleasant parenting jobs, you'd have to observe each parent (or just survey women hah). I feel that my husband enjoys relatively more parenting leisure time than I do while I do more undesirable tasks that are necessary for raising a healthy child (i.e. getting up before 7am, changing diapers... ). If I didn't work outside the home, I would categorize the majority of time with my son as "work".

"Second, some of America’s worst traits, such as the obsession with guns, the excess militarism, or the tendency toward drunkenness, not to mention rape and the history of slavery, seem to come largely from white men. "

This seems silly.

The so-called obsession with guns only manifests itself into high rates of violence among non-white men. The homicide rates in open-carry states like North Dakota and Idaho are lower than the Canadian provinces they border.

White men commit less rape than their share of the population, and the history of slavery in America pre-dates white men - it was ubiquitous among native Indians and the unfortunate African people who were eventually enslaved themselves and taken to America.

So apart from drunkenness - and American men drink less than Europeans - white men are not exceptional in any of these things. They are disproportionately represented in science, technology, medicine, economics, married life and dozens of other positive things.

Bizarre post. It seems Tyler has inadvertantly bought into the SJW perception that has now stirred a reaction among Trump supporters. For a cause of Trump's popularity, look to the errononeous assumptions in this post.

Side note:
Many people claim that reduced career success for women is not due to sexism in the workplace but rather because women tend to work less overtime and take more time off to have babies. They are less committed to their careers, and this explains the lack of advancement.

However, it's worth noting that it's much harder to work a lot of overtime if you're pulling an unequal share of the household chores. It could be that sexism at home skews the number of free hours per week that women have to devote to careers when compared with men, which results in a vicious cycle in which the woman's career is the first to be sacrificed.

As studies show, women with beautiful faces are preferred to other women in servicing jobs by customers. Hey, it's not the employer being discriminatory, but the customers as a collective whole is discriminating.

If there were no OT laws would people work more or less?

It seems to me that most men would like to work more.

Of course we are looking at taxed work, I imagine people work less that they have in a long time but more in the taxed economy and less for in home consumption.

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