Riding the Waves of Work and Life: Explaining Long-Term Experiences with Work Hour Mismatches. By: Reynolds, Jeremy; McKinzie, Ashleigh Elain. Social Forces. Sep2019, Vol. 98 Issue 1, p427-460. 34p.

Paid work has become more precarious in the recent decades, prompting many conflicts between employers and employees, including struggles over work hours. To better understand these struggles, we provide the first examination of long-term experiences with work hour mismatches (i.e. gaps between the number of hours people prefer to work per week and the number of hours they actually work). Using sequence analysis and nearly two decades of data from the British Household Panel Study, we find heterogeneous but patterned experiences. Nearly everyone has an hour mismatch eventually (typically overemployment), and most people oscillate between having and not having hour mismatches. Existing theoretical accounts anticipate some hour mismatch sequences, but the data contradict several key predictions. Moreover, no account predicts the most dominant pattern: oscillating overemployment. We thus offer a new explanation, which proposes that hour mismatches usually come in waves but can be generated in different ways. Sometimes mismatches are caused by unstable work schedules. Other times, mismatches stem from inflexible work hours or job demands that intentionally or unintentionally prevent employees from altering their work hours to accommodate changing personal needs.