bizoo_n/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Long working hours and voter turnout

How do long and nonstandard working hours affect political participation? A team of researchers has investigated this for 24 European countries.

For the study, the researchers evaluated turnout in national elections before and in 2010. Their analysis shows: People who regularly work more than 45 hours a week, or work in the evenings, at night or on weekends are less likely to vote.

Women's political participation suffers most from long hours and nonstandard working schedules. The researchers found this negative effect among women in occupational groups with a high and a low status:  from saleswomen, service and clerical workers to managers and high-status professionals. The strongest effect can be found among women working in clerical/service/sales occupation. For them, working more than 45 hours a week reduces the likelihood of voting by as much as 12 percent. The magnitude of this negative effect is close to the effect size of the two well-known and the strongest predictors of electoral participation in electoral research, namely political interest and the affiliation with a political party: each reduces the participation by as much as 15 percent.  

For men, the negative association between working long or unsociable hours and voting only holds true for men with the lowest occupational status, such as operators, assemblers, and elementary workers.

As a possible cause of these gender-related differences, the authors cite the phenomenon known in research as the "second shift": women take on a large part of the unpaid care and house work, which leaves them less time than men for political participation, for example. The researchers also looked at mechanisms by which long and nonstandard working hours reduce voter turnout. For example, such working hours reduce the attention that employees can devote to political issues.