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How Good is Part‐Time Work?

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Part‐time work is becoming more important in OECD countries, particularly as some groups with traditionally low labour force participation ‐ such as mothers, youth and older workers ‐ take up work in greater numbers. Despite recent regulatory changes to improve the quality of part‐time jobs, workers holding these jobs still face a penalty compared with full‐time workers in terms of pay, job security, training and promotion, have higher risk of poverty and are less likely to have access to unemployment benefits or re‐employment assistance if they become unemployed. However, in terms of job satisfaction, these disadvantages appear to be offset by more family‐friendly working‐time arrangements and better health and safety. Overall, part‐time work promotes higher labour force participation and can be a viable alternative to inactivity for many, if appropriate incentives are in place. In countries with a high share of part‐time employment, few part‐timers move into full‐time work and many stay in part‐time jobs for long periods. This may be by choice, but can also have adverse long‐term impacts for individuals, and for aggregate labour supply in ageing OECD societies. It is important to remove barriers to moving into full‐time work. Notably, tax and benefit systems often reduce the gain from working more hours and can hinder transitions between parttime and full‐time work.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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