In response to a Conor Friedersdorf post on hard-working high earners I decided to look around for some data on the differences between socioeconomic categories in terms of hours worked weekly. In the GSS I found a modest association between higher income and more hours, but the N’s were rather modest as well. Looking through google scholar I stumbled onto a different issue. Below the fold is a table from The Overworked American or the Overestimated Work Week?
Many years ago I did some QA data analysis for an engineering firm. More specifically it was a company which designed truck parts. Not only did they design specific parts, but they had small foundry right next to the engineering office. I was in an annex office with a few older engineers, and because of building maintenance we had to go use the bathroom in the foundry quite often since the one for the main office always seemed booked and ours was out of commission. In any case, I noticed that whenever I entered the foundry everyone was working hard (though since I saw the data which pinpointed who produced a disproportionate number of defective parts I had an idea who was always focused and who was more facultative).The overseers, uh, I mean supervisors, would swing by constantly to make sure that the foundry workers were doing their job. Meanwhile, back at the office one of the older engineers quite clearly worked “Saudi hours,” if you know what I mean. When his supervisor showed up he was busy enough, and he always stayed later than the factory workers, who were always running out the door at 5. Soon enough I realized that everyone in the annex office had an “understanding,” if you know what I mean.