Do preferences impact behavior and wellbeing?

Research report

September 2014


Externally reviewed

A panel study of preferred and actual working time 2001–2008/09

Study Paper No. 80


Written by: Jens Bonke and Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen


Working the hours one wants is an important factor for a person’s wellbeing. And if there is an imbalance between desired and actual hours of work, it is important that this imbalance can be resolved by changing working hours. This study, which is based on data from the Danish Time Use panel survey, shows that throughout the period 2001-08 a majority of people were satisfied with their weekly working hours, but that nevertheless there remained a substantial proportion who would like to work more or fewer hours. However, the majority of those who were working more hours than they wished at the beginning of the survey period were able to adjust their hours to the desired level by the end of it, and similarly a majority of those with too few working hours were able to increase their working time. This indicates that there is considerable flexibility in the Danish labour market, meaning for many people that they can work the number of hours per week that they wish to.