Time: too little, too late or too lone? Theoretical, empirical and experimental investigation of time choices


CALL: 2018

DOMAIN: SC - Identities, Diversity and Interaction


LAST NAME: Cosaert




KEYWORDS: Household behaviour, time use, togetherness, time preferences, lab experiment, family labor supply, consumption, home production, childcare, collective model, intertemporal choice, revealed preferences, LISS, ECPF, QVT, work-life balance

START: 2019-01-01


WEBSITE: https://www.liser.lu

Submitted Abstract

Today’s individuals and families are swayed by shortness of time. While policy makers are acting to alleviate this, for example by implementing generous parental leaves, recent studies show that shorter workweeks do not necessarily improve work-life balance. TIMING conjectures that the effectiveness of such policies depends not only on the trade-offs between the amount of work and leisure but also on the precise timing of these activities. Timing matters especially within the household due to its implications for togetherness, the time spouses spend jointly on work, child rearing, leisure or other activities. TIMING focuses on two prominent aspects of timing: the synchronization of work and non-work activities between spouses (for example, work alone or work together) and the positioning of these activities in the timeline (for example, work now or work later). Both aspects are under-researched in economics. While empirical evidence shows that couples favor spending time together, most models of family time use treat time as a private resource that each household member uses independently. While humans often exhibit time inconsistencies in lab experiments, most models of intertemporal choice focus on impatience (leisure is mostly preferred now and work is mostly preferred later) and preclude other types of intertemporal behavior. We are unaware of any research that combines the two aspects of timing together.TIMING seeks to produce three research papers (WP1-WP3) and one policy report (WP4) that incorporate timing into the study of household behavior. WP1 develops a collective household model for home production, market work and leisure, in which time use can be joint (togetherness) or independent. We define and quantify the costs and benefits of different uses of time using data from the Dutch Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social sciences (LISS). WP2 develops a model of intertemporal choice consistent with alternative types of household time preferences such as impatience, anticipation, and adaptation. We derive testable conditions to distinguish among the different modes of time behavior using data from the Spanish Encuesta Continua de Presupuestos Familiares (ECPF). WP3 ties together togetherness from WP1 and time preferences from WP2 to investigate which preferences prevail in situations where the two dimensions may conflict. To the best of our knowledge this is not possible with an existing set of data, so we design a lab experiment to elicit choices of couples in such an environment. Based on the knowledge from WP1-WP3 and data from Luxembourg’s Conditions de Travail et Qualité de Vie au Travail (QVT), we calibrate a lifecycle model for family time allocation in WP4 and infer the likely implications of three recent labor market and family-related policies in Luxembourg when timing is explicitly considered. We pay attention to a new law on the organization of working time (Legislation No.271; 27/12/2016) that increases the requirement for work outside regular hours. Although time underlies many important aspects of life, such as family labor supply and lifecycle behavior, most economic models of household behavior abstract from it. TIMING seeks to fill this gap by bridging the household labor supply and time use literatures. Filling this gap is essential for our understanding of how modern labor market and family-related policies affect family welfare, female labor force participation, parental time, and other socioeconomic outcomes.

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