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The Political Economy of the Service Transition$
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Anne Wren

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657285.001.0001

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The Political Economy of Working Time and Redistribution

The Political Economy of Working Time and Redistribution

(p.282) 9 The Political Economy of Working Time and Redistribution
The Political Economy of the Service Transition

Lucy Barnes

Oxford University Press

The transition to service-based economies has been accompanied by large shifts in the distribution of work within the populations of the advanced democracies. This includes a rise of part-time employment, as well as changes in working time for those in full-time employment: an end to the secular decline in working time, or increases in working time. As Barnes describes in this chapter, the extent of change on both of these dimensions varies across countries. Furthermore, she argues that working time is an important factor influencing preferences over economic policy in general and redistributive policies in particular, suggesting that this variation is likely to be politically significant. This chapter complements Iversen and Rosenbluth’s analysis of part-time workers (Chapter 10) by examining the second, less studied, trend of rising long-hours work. She argues that many workers in today’s post-industrial economies faced with consumption costs which are difficult to adjust, work more hours (and sacrifice more leisure) than they would choose to in a more flexible environment. Among these workers she predicts (and finds) a predisposition to oppose redistribution, because of the costs, in terms of further forgone leisure, implied by taxation. Her analysis uses cross-national public opinion data from eleven OECD countries and finds evidence of variation in the size of the effect of working hours on political preferences across countries, linked to institutional features of the tax system, that amplifies or offsets this individual calculus.

Keywords:   working time, working hours, redistribution, political preferences, long-hours work, tax system, public opinion, service economy

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