Compensation for Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Cohort

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041522-WP-Compensation for Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules-Fugiel

Peter J. Fugiel, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Prior research shows unpredictable and unstable work schedules are associated with negative health, family, and economic outcomes. But little research has examined what, if anything, workers gain from such schedule arrangements. I use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Cohort to analyze the effects of various schedules on the benefits and pay of employees in their 20s and 30s during the period 2011–2018. This longitudinal analysis provides a rigorous test of compensating differentials and efficient matching theories invoked by opponents of scheduling regulation. I find that workers are not compensated for scheduling risk in the form of higher pay, greater job retention, or beneficial flexibility. Compared with a stable schedule, workers in unstable and unpredictable arrangements report lower job satisfaction and much less possibility (−10 to −20 percentage points lower predicted probability) of receiving the benefit of a flexible work schedule. These results suggest imperfections in the market for working time, strengthening the case for regulations requiring that employers pay a premium for schedule changes.


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