Abstract: Part-Time Employment in the United States and Canada: Post-World War II Trends

Laura J. Owen


Part-time employment increased in both the United States and Canada in the latter half of the twentieth century, but the rate of increase was much faster in Canada, particularly after the mid-1970s. These diverging part-time employment rates contributed to different trends in average annual hours worked in the two countries. This analysis examines the role of labor supply factors (including the age and gender composition of the work force), labor demand factors (linked to economic growth and business cycles), and the impact of unions on the different trends in part-time employment. The results of an econometric analysis of the labor supply, labor demand, and union effects are interpreted within the context of the two countries' different histories of employment policies and practices. The preliminary findings are: (1) Canadian women have continued to see part-time employment as an attractive choice; (2) the cost of choosing part-time employment is higher in the United States; and (3) the structures and rules of government programs may affect the choice of part-time versus full-time employment.