Who are the overworked Americans?

Jerry A. Jacobs, Kathleen Gerson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper analyzes three trends in working time in the United States over the last thirty years. First, we document an increasing bifurcation of working time, with growth evident among those working both long and short hours. An international comparison also shows that the United States stands out as having among the highest percentage of workers putting in 50 hours per week or more. Second, we argue that there is a mismatch between working time and the preferences of American workers. On average, those working very long hours express a desire to work less, while those working short hours prefer to work more. Third, we maintain that the sense of being overworked stems primarily from demographic shifts in the labor force rather than from changes in average working time per se. Even in the absence of a dramatic rise in time spent on the job, the growth in the proportion of American households consisting of dual-earner couples and single parents has created a growing percentage of workers who face heightened time pressures and increased conflicts between work and their private lives.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)442-459
    Number of pages18
    JournalReview of Social Economy
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1998


    • Dual earners
    • Over work
    • Time famine
    • Under work
    • Work-family conflict
    • Working time

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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