Hielke Buddelmeyer (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research & IZA), Gilles Mourre (Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs) and Melanie Ward (European Central Bank, CEPR and IZA)
This paper aims to identify the contribution of the business cycle and structural factors to the development of part-time employment in the EU-15 countries, through the exploitation of both cross-sectional and time series variations over the past two decades.
This analysis is used to comment on whether part-time jobs have been used as a flexible work arrangement by firms in the EU-15 over this period.
Key results include that the business cycle, as measured by either the output gap or real GDP growth, is found to exert a negative effect on part-time employment developments. This is consistent with firms utilising part-time employment as a means of adjusting their labour force to economic conditions. Correspondingly, involuntary part-time employment is found to be countercyclical, being higher in troughs of economic activity. Splitting our sample by age and gender groups reveals a very significant effect of the business cycle on the rate of part-time work for young and male prime-age workers. Conversely, the effect is very weak for women and insignificant for older workers.
(European Economy. Economic Papers. 213. September 2004.
Brussels. 39pp. Tab. Free.)