Several studies have looked at the impact of the French 35 hour week law on economic output (my recollection is that most find little impact). Now another study has looked at its effect on social capital. Its conclusion? Not much impact. Which leaves me thinking that perhaps someone should look at what’s happened to French TV watching patterns over this period.
The Effect of Hours of Work on Social InteractionÂ
Henry Saffer, Karine Lamiraud
Over time, increases in hours of work per capita have created the intuitively plausible notion that there is less time available to pursue social interactions.Â The specific question addressed in this paper is the effect of hours of work on social interaction.Â This is a difficult empirical question since omitted factors could increase both hours of work and social interaction.Â The approach taken in this paper utilizes an exogenous decline in hours of work in France due to a new employment law.Â The results clearly show that the employment law reduced hours of work but there is no evidence that the extra hours went to increased social interactions.Â Although hours of work are not an important determinant of social interaction, human capital is found to be important.Â The effect of human capital, as measured by education and age, is positive for membership groups but negative for visiting relatives and friends.Â Also, contrary to expectations, there are no important differences in the determinants of social interaction by gender, marital status or parent status.Â Finally, a comparison between France and the US show that the response to human capital and other variables are much the same in both nations.Â