This paper presents evidence that, across many European countries, the 1990s have witnessed an intensification of labour effort, and investigates explanations for this process. Using data drawn from The European Survey on Working Conditions, we construct an index of work effort and show that it has reasonable properties in relation to other variables. We find that Britain has experienced the fastest rise in work effort, while in western Germany, Denmark and Greece there has been very little intensification of work effort. We show that work effort is higher in jobs that use computers more frequently, and in jobs that are more open to competitive pressures. Work effort has increased faster in countries where trade union density has declined the most. These factors are able to explain a large portion of the variation in the change of work effort between countries, but there remains a significant shift in work effort that is not accounted for by available explanatory variables
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