School of Economics

2002 Discussion Papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 02/07
July 2002

Why Has Work Effort Become More Intense?
Francis Green

School of Economics
University of Kent at Canterbury


Effort-biased technological change and other explanations for work intensification are investigated. It is hypothesised that technological and organizational changes are one important source of work intensification and supportive evidence is found using establishment data for Britain in the 1990s. Work intensification has also been stimulated by the use of high-commitment human resource policies. A reduction in union power, and a rise in the use of temporary agency workers and contractors, were positively associated with work intensification; however, their impact during the 1990s was comparatively modest.

JEL Classification: J22, J33, J51

Keywords: Labour supply, work effort, work intensity, wages, technical change, work organisation, unions, high commitment policies, incentives.

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