Working-Time Changes

Working-Time Changes

Social Integration Through Transitional Labour Markets

Labour Markets and Employment Policy series

Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly, Inmaculada Cebrián and Michel Lallement

Drawing on both quantitative longitudinal panel study data and qualitative case study material, the authors (whose expertise is drawn from the fields of economics, sociology and law) provide an original perspective on the nature and implications of Transitional Labour Markets in Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Britain, Germany, France and The Netherlands.

Chapter 8: Time, lifestyles and transitions in France and Sweden

Dominique Anxo, Jean-Yves Boulin, Michel Lallement, Gilbert Lefevre and Rachel Silvera

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, labour policy


Dominique Anxo, Jean-Yves Boulin, Michel Lallement, Gilbert Lefevre and Rachel Silvera The amount of time spent at work, which is a key factor in the evolution of lifestyles, has been on a downward trend for over 150 years in many industrialized countries. This long-term decrease is only apparently linear: over and above the general trend not only have economic and social factors varied over time, but major concerns have also not necessarily been the same from one country to another. From this viewpoint, current debate in France about work-sharing and the change to a 35-hour week reflect a very specific history and specific practices. These particular characteristics are highlighted when France is compared with Sweden. As Anxo and O’Reilly point out in Chapter 3 of this volume, these two countries have experienced very different developments in the evolution of changes with respect to working time. While successive French governments have introduced a wide range of legislative and regulatory measures in this area, such intervention has been limited in Sweden, except in the area of individual rights to various forms of leave. Furthermore, and despite the employment crisis, the reduction of working time is far from being a significant issue of public debate in Sweden.1 In France, however, the debate about working time has been closely associated with the goal of reducing unemployment. The 1990s have seen a trend in both countries towards decentralization of negotiations on working hours as well as the introduction of innovative experiments...

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