Working time regulation, unequal lifetimes and fairness
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We examine the redistributive impact of working time regulations in an economy with unequal lifetimes. We first compare the laissez-faire equilibrium with the ex post egalitarian optimum, where the realized lifetime well-being of the worst off (usually the short-lived) is maximized, and show that, unlike the laissez-faire, this social optimum involves an increasing working time age profile and equalizes the realized lifetime well-being of the short-lived and the long-lived. We then examine whether working time regulations can compensate the short-lived. It is shown that uniform working time regulations cannot improve the situation of the short-lived with respect to the laissez-faire, and can only reduce well-being inequalities at the cost of making the short-lived worse off. However, age-specific regulations involving lower working time for the young and higher working time for the old make the short-lived better off, even though such regulations may not fully eradicate well-being inequalities.
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