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Technology and the Future of European Employment

Edited by Pascal Petit and Luc Soete

What is the potential of the new information and communication technologies? This book assesses the relationship between technological change and employment in all its dimensions, focusing on contemporary economies in Europe. The authors discuss patterns of growth, and the type of employment that countries might expect to be created following the introduction of these new technologies.
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Chapter 13: Changing working time patterns

Vincenzo Spiezia and Marco Vivarelli


Vincenzo Spiezia and Marco Vivarelli 1. INTRODUCTION The reorganization and reduction of working time is currently on the policy agenda of most European countries and of the European Union as a whole. Working time, indeed, is an essential indicator of welfare. Not only is the total amount of working time the appropriate measure of the employment possibilities existing in a country, but per capita working time is a measure of ‘quality of life’ of its workers. The aim of this chapter is to analyse the main changes in the patterns of working time over the last 35 years with respect to three important aspects. The first one is the interrelation between the dynamics of total working time and per capita working time in determining the dynamics of employment. On the one hand, for a given growth rate in total working time, shorter working hours are a necessary condition for an increase in employment. On the other, the reduction in the average working time may exert an upward pressure on labour costs and may result in a decrease in labour demand. The second issue is the analysis of the factors that affect the evolution of per capita working time in each country and that may explain the observed cross-country differences in working time patterns. Country-specific factors are likely to play a major role in shaping working time patterns and the identification of these factors represents an important benchmark for policy makers. Finally, we will examine how the changes in...

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