Carcillo, S., Hijzen, A., & Thewissen, S. (2023). The limitations of overtime limits to reduce long working hours: Evidence from the 2018 to 2021 working time reform in Korea. British Journal of Industrial Relations.

This article provides a first assessment of the causal impact of the2018–2021 reform in Korea meant to combat its long working‐hour culture. Thereform consists of lowering the statutory limit on total weekly working hoursfrom 68 to 52. We apply a difference‐in‐difference approach in which we takeadvantage of the stepwise implementation of the reform by firm size usingindividual‐level data. We present three main findings. First, theintroduction of the 52‐h limit reduced but far from eliminated the incidenceof working more than 52 h. Second, there is some evidence that theintroduction led to a reallocation of working hours, with more employeesshifting from working fulltime to working overtime within the new limit(41–52 h). Third, and more tentatively, this reallocation more likely tookplace within firms to account for fewer overtime hours worked by theiremployees, rather than within households to compensate for any incomeeffects. Overall, our results show that a lower statutory limit can help tolessen a long working‐hour culture, but is an insufficient measure by itselfto fully eradicate it.