The study by Robert Rudolf of Korea University, Seoul, focuses on the overall individual and family happiness of married and co-residing couples living with children, and also assesses the impact of working hours on people's overall job and life satisfaction.
South Korea officially started to introduce its reformative working policy in 2004, in which Saturdays became official non-working days. It also reduced the official working week from 44 to 40 hours.
The policy was instigated to enhance living standards, boost the country's weak leisure industry and to reduce the negative effects of excessively long working hours, including low productivity and high rates of industrial injury.
Rudolf found that working wives and mothers are generally more pleased with the reformative measures than their male counterparts. This is because women face higher work-family role conflicts within the traditional Korean society, and thus suffer more from long overtime hours.
Even though full-time workers, and women in particular, are generally thankful that their work week was cut by four hours on average, it has had no significant impact on their overall job and life satisfaction. This is because much of the positive spin-offs gained from fewer working hours are often offset by rising work intensity demands set by employers, while some firms tend to give less holiday time.
These findings show either that traditional theory is wrong to suggest that longer working hours alone have a negative impact on the personal happiness of employees, or it means that increased work intensity, because of cuts in official working hours, completely offsets any positive effects such a move might have.
The paper has been published online in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.
--ANI (Posted on 22-08-2013)