Friday, November 28, 2008

The Weather and Work

Marie Connolly (Princeton) has a paper in the Journal of Labor Economics (2008, vol. 26, no. 1) about the weather and intertemporal substitution of labour. A rainy day is associated with lower enjoyment of leisure, more hours at work and higher wages. Connolly tests the model using data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), supplemented with information about daily weather.

The question arises - are individuals not constrained in terms of their working-time decisions? Connolly describes a few recent papers that have looked at jobs held by individuals such as taxi drivers (Camerer et al. 1997; Farber 2004, 2005) and bike messengers (Fehr and Goette 2002), in which workers can effectively choose their daily hours of work. She also mentions that daily work time is calculated in minutes in the ATUS, which allows fine-grained analysis. She finds that, on rainy days, men shift on average 30 minutes from leisure to work.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, eh?


Kevin Denny said...

Rainy days associated with less leisure.Hmmm..makes you glad to be an economist.

Kevin Denny said...

Actually an interesting hypothesis to test would be Carpenter's Theorem "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down"

Martin Ryan said...

Also interesting may be to consider individuals who are constrained in terms of their working-time decisions.

Connolly mentions relatively unconstrained jobs held by individuals such as taxi drivers and bike messengers, in which workers can effectively choose their own daily hours.

However, many other jobs have people locked into fixed routines. Hamermesh (2005) mentions that individuals with higher levels of education tend to have less routine.

Ultimately, it may be the case that constraints on working-time decisions may mostly be present for individuals who do not work for themselves. A hypothesis following on from this --- is that the self-employed may have higher levels of utility. Based on the fact that they can store up time for leisure, for when they will get the most out of it.