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Does advertising increase labour supply? Time series evidence from the UK

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Wages in industrialized countries have risen considerably during the last 50 years, whereas hours worked, for manual workers at least, have decreased only marginally. In Europe, one policy response has been to attempt to protect workers from pressure to work long hours by placing legal restrictions on the amount of hours that may be worked each week. This paper examines the possibility that, in fact, observed hours may be the result of a desire of workers to work longer due to a shift in their preferences from leisure to increased consumption, caused by the huge increase in mass media advertising. A cointegrating VAR framework is used to test this hypothesis on UK time series data for both males and females from 1952 to 1997. Advertising is shown to be positively associated with hours worked for both male and female series. Causality tests indicate unidirectional causality, for males and females, from advertising to hours worked. These results suggest that the European policy response is more likely to restrict employee rather than employer discretion over hours.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK 2: Nottingham University Business School, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham NG8 1BB, UK

Publication date: July 20, 2003

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