Article

Imbalances between worked hours and desired hours among the younger population

An analysis of their evolution in Spain, 2000-2018

Margarita Torre, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Project selected in the Call to support social research projects: vocational training, early school leaving and job insecurity

The imbalances between the hours that people work and those that they would like to work have important consequences on a personal, family, and organisational level. The percentage of young people suffering such imbalances has grown significantly over the last 10 years, particularly among those who would like to work more hours than they actually work. Not only has the number of young people dissatisfied increased, but so has the average number of hours that they would like to work more or less. The economic crisis of 2008 aggravated precarisation and intensified inequality between men and women and among young people from different socioeconomic levels. It is essential that equality among young people be promoted in order to prevent the crisis caused by the covid-19 health emergency from widening the gap.
Key points
  • 1
       The percentage of young people experiencing imbalances between the hours that they work and those that they would like to work has not ceased to increase since the 2008 crisis, mainly among those who would like to work more hours.
  • 2
       Not only has the number of young people affected by this imbalance grown, but also the gap between the number of hours worked and the number of hours they would like to work is getting wider.
  • 3
       Part-time employment, temporary contracts, and mainly female occupations are the main determi-nants with regard to working fewer hours than desired. Young people originating from outside of the EU-15 and women are the workers most affected.
  • 4
       Young professionals and managers are those who most suffer an excess of working hours, followed by mothers with children.
  • 5
       These factors are of crucial importance for the designing of policies that promote organisational wel-fare and equal opportunities among young people from different social backgrounds in the face of the crisis that will ensue from the public health emergency caused by covid-19.
Imbalance between worked hours and desired hours among the younger Spanish population. Percentage of young people who would like to work more or fewer hours than they currently work, 2000-2018
Imbalance between worked hours and desired hours among the younger Spanish population. Percentage of young people who would like to work more or fewer hours than they currently work, 2000-2018

The distribution of working hours is paradoxical. In Spain, the percentage of young people who involuntarily work part-time hours grew from 31% to 58% between 2000 and 2018 (reaching 68.5% in 2014), versus an average of 14.8% in the eurozone (data from EU-LFS 2018). At the same time,  we are witnessing the intro-duction of a work culture that requires long working hours outside of the work timetable in order to meet company targets. 

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