Who Wants and Gets Flexibility? Changing Work Hours Preferences and Life Events
Using panel data for 2001-2005 from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, the authors examine workers' desires for, and achievement of, work hour flexibility. They estimate a dynamic model that controls for preferences in previous years and tests for the effects of life events on both desired employment and desired work hours. Many life events, such as motherhood and retirement, are found to have predictable effects. Parallel regressions are estimated for actual employment and the number of hours usually worked, and the results are compared to those for preferences. The dynamics of usual hours often mirror those for preferences, suggesting that labor markets function effectively for many employees. However, mismatches are associated with three life events: motherhood, widowhood for men, and job loss. The results also suggest that many men and women would extend employment under phased retirement programs, although only for a brief period.