DP10712 Not Working At Work: Loafing, Unemployment and Labor Productivity

Author(s): Michael C Burda, Katie R. Genadek, Daniel S. Hamermesh
Publication Date: July 2015
Keyword(s): efficiency wage, labor productivity, loafing, non-work, shirking, time use
JEL(s): E24, J22
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10712

Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) 2003-12, we estimate time spent by workers in non-work while on the job. Non-work time is substantial and varies positively with the local unemployment rate. While the average time spent by workers in non-work conditional on any positive non-work rises with the unemployment rate, the fraction of workers who report time in non-work varies pro-cyclically, declining in recessions. These results are consistent with a model in which heterogeneous workers are paid efficiency wages to refrain from loafing on the job. That model correctly predicts relationships of the incidence and conditional amounts of non-work with wage rates and measures of unemployment benefits in state data linked to the ATUS, and it is consistent with observed occupational differences in non-work.