Many recent studies of the time-squeeze have used aggregate, trend data on work-hour behavior and inferred changing preferences among working men and women. This article begins with couple data and examines preferences as well as behavior in married-couple families. Work-hour behavior is conceptualized as an interaction between employee preferences, employer demands, and the institutional context. The article's analyses clearly indicate that there is a considerable disparity between couples' self-reports of preferences and their actual behavior. These results suggest that long work weeks generally do not reflect employee preferences but may result from constraints and demands imposed by the workplace. The rising sense of a time-squeeze in American society may stem from all-or-nothing assumptions about the nature and structure of work and the pressure to put in long hours to be seen as committed, productive, and having the potential for advancement.
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