Gender and Work-Life Flexibility in the Labour Market

  • Alison L. Booth
  • Jeff Frank
Part of the The Future of Work Series book series (TFW)


A friend had a job playing in The Mousetrap in London. It was a one-year contract (with no chance of renewal), involved 8 shows a week (6 evenings and 2 matinees), and contained a gratuity clause where he would be penalised £50 (from the end-of-contract gratuity) for every show he missed, even if due to illness. This contract reflects the sort of labour market flexibility desired by some employers, with no employment protection, with effectively no sick pay, and with unsocial hours. Employers would argue that this flexibility serves a clear functional purpose. The unsocial hours are necessary since not many people would go to see a performance at 9 in the morning. The one year limit on employment is necessary since a regular turnover of cast is important to keep the show fresh. Absences — even due to illness — need to be discouraged since it is undesirable to have understudies rather than cast members perform. Employers would also argue that workers receive the appropriate compensation for this flexibility. While this particular contract can be extremely attractive to some individuals — and indeed there is no difficulty in recruiting new cast members — it would also be extremely inconvenient to others. In a competitive labour market, the rate of pay would contain ‘compensating differentials’ — by which is meant that wages must be higher if a job is unattractive to compensate for the disutility of working there and lower if a job is attractive.


Career Break Union Coverage Cast Member Equal Wage Child Benefit System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akerlof, G.A. (1998) Men without Children. The Economic journal, 108, 287–309. Apps, P.F. (2002) Gender, Time Use and Models of the Household. World Bank Discussion Paper. Google Scholar
  2. AUT (Association of University Teachers) (2001) Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Participation in UK Universities. Google Scholar
  3. Becker, G.S. (1965) A Theory of the Allocation of Time. The Economic Journal, 1965, 75, 493–517.Google Scholar
  4. Blackaby, D., Booth, A.L., and Frank, J. (2002) Outside Offers and the Gender Pay Gap: Empirical Evidence from the UK Academic Labour Market. CEPR Discussion Paper No. 3549. Forthcoming The Economic Journal, February, 2005.Google Scholar
  5. Blackaby, D. and Frank, J. (2000) Ethnic and Other Minority Representation in Economics. The Economic Journal, 110, F293–311.Google Scholar
  6. Booth, A.L. and Francesconi, M. (2003) Union Coverage and Non-Standard Work in Britain. Oxford Economic Papers, 55, 383–416.Google Scholar
  7. Booth, A.L., Francesconi, M. and Frank, J. (2002) Temporary jobs: stepping stones or dead ends? The Economic Journal, 112, F189–213.Google Scholar
  8. Booth, A.L., Francesconi, M. and Frank, J. (2003a) A sticky floors model of promotion, pay, and gender. European Economic Review, 47, 295–322.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, A.L., Francesconi, M. and Frank, J. (2003b) Labour as a Buffer: Do Temporary Workers Suffer? Chapter 3 in Fagan, G., Mongelli, F.P. and Morgan, J. (eds), Institutions and Wage Formation in the New Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  10. Booth, A.L. and Frank, J. (2003) What Can Single and Gay Men Tell Us About The Marriage Premium? Royal Holloway College, University of London Discussion Paper. Google Scholar
  11. Hakim, C. (2002) Lifestyle Preferences as Determinants of Women’s Differentiated Labor Market Careers. Work and Occupations, 29, 428–59.Google Scholar
  12. Landers, R., Rebitzer, J. and Taylor, L. (1996) Rat Race Reux: Adverse Selection in the Determination of Work Hours in Law Firms. American Economic Review, June, 329–48.Google Scholar
  13. Manser, M. and Brown, M. (1980) Marriage and household decision making: a bargaining analysis, International Economic Review, 21, 31–44.Google Scholar
  14. Merrett, D. and Seltzer, A. (2000) The Nature of Bank Work and Worker Monitoring: a Study of the Union Bank of Australia in the 1920s. Business Histoty, 42, 133–52.Google Scholar
  15. Weiss, Y. (1997) The Formation and Dissolution of Families: Why Marry? Who Marries Whom? And What Happens Upon Divorce? Chapter 3 in Rosenzweig, M.R. and Stark, O. (eds), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, 1A, Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alison L. Booth and Jeff Frank 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison L. Booth
  • Jeff Frank

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations