Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Economics

Advisor

Simon, Curtis

Committee Member

Maloney , Michael

Committee Member

Mroz , Thomas

Committee Member

Tamura , Robert

Abstract

The three chapters of this dissertation are closely related to one another and pertain to work flexibility. The first chapter uses an occupational choice model to estimate how workers value schedule flexibility in terms of other on the job characteristics. The second chapter also estimates how workers value flexibility using a hedonic wage approach. This method provides an estimate of how workers value schedule flexibility in terms of real wages. In the third chapter I estimate the impact of family structure on the probability that men choose a flexible job.
Flexible work schedules are becoming an increasingly important characteristic for one's occupational choice. I examine the effect of flexible work schedules on college graduates' occupational choice. Over the past 30 years flexible work schedules have become more prevalent in the work place to help employees balance work and family lives. The United States' government is advocating flexible work schedules in order to promote gender equality for men and women's occupational distribution. I estimate an occupational choice model with over 200 occupations using Census data for 1980, 1990, and 2000. Both men and women college graduates are attracted to jobs with flexible work hours, but in terms of marginal rate of substitution men are willing to sacrifice increasingly more safety on the job to obtain flexible schedules relative to women. Further, married individuals have become increasingly attracted to flexible work hours in terms of MRS; however, single mothers now value flexible work hours relative to safety less compared to 1980.
The hedonic wage model finds similar results to the occupational choice model. The results suggest that men and women value schedule flexibility differently and that workers in high and low skilled occupations value flexibility differently. Looking at men and women aggregated by occupational skill level there is little difference between the value men and women place on flexibility due the relatively large size of the standard errors on the estimated marginal willingness to pay. Women are willing to sacrifice approximately 1% of wages to obtain flexibility and men are willing to sacrifice 2% of wages.
The difference between men and women becomes starker when examining differences in occupational skill level. There is the peculiar result that men in low skilled occupations must be compensated to take on flexible schedules. In theory workers need not be compensated for schedule flexibility because if it is undesired characteristics workers do not to utilize the flexibility and thus would be unwilling to sacrifice wages. Men in high skilled occupations value schedule flexibility more than women. These results are consistent with the results from the occupational choice model which also showed that men were more willing to sacrifice physical safety on the job to obtain flexibility.
Lastly, in the occupational choice model I find that married value flexibility relatively more compared to other demographic groups. On an intuitive level it makes sense that men with working spouses would be more likely to choose jobs with flexible schedules. Families may wish to be able to coordinate their schedules in order to better balance their work and personal lives. It also provides an opportunity for individuals to take off from work if something unexpected arises. Family structure is an important determinant in the occupational choice model and how individuals value flexible schedules. I find that having a working spouse increases the probability of choosing a job with schedule flexibility by 1-6 percentage points depending on the specification.

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