INWORK Policy Brief No. 5

The Distribution of Hours of Work in Developed and Developing Countries: What are the Main Differences and Why?

When the distribution of hours worked is tightly clustered around the average working hours, the average can serve as a good indicator of working hours in the country or economic sector. Yet, when there is considerable diversification in the distribution of hours worked, average hours can be misleading, as they conceal the extent of variations in working hours across individuals. In such cases, standardized hour bands (e.g. normal-, long-, short-hour bands) can serve as good measures of the distribution of hours worked, and these data provide an important tool for digging beneath the surface of the trends in average hours to find out what factors are driving those trends.