Most Part-Time Workers Do So By Choice

December 30, 2003 ( - The majority (71%) of part-time workers in their prime working years - 25 to 65 - are working the part-time schedule by choice.

The decision to work an abbreviated schedule was mostly related to striking a work-life balance. Of the more than 9.5 million employees working part-time by choice, nearly 40% of those workers were working part-time for reasons related to work-life balance-child care, personal or family obligations or education, according to a study by the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF).

Across the gamut, differentiation was found in the typically part-time employee based on education, gender, career and a host of other factors. College-educated workers – those with at least a two-year degree – were more likely than non-college educated workers to choose part-time work for balance reasons – 43% versus 34%. Workers in traditional “white-collar” occupations chose to work part-time for reasons related to work-life balance than workers in “blue-collar” occupations.

The greatest concentration of part-time workers was found in women, mostly related to work-life balance concerns. Almost one in five working women in the prime working years work part-time, compared to just over one in 20 men. Despite men’s larger share of the overall workforce between the ages of 25 and 65, there are almost three women for every man in the part-time workforce. Sticking to the overall theme in the study, women were significantly more likely than men to work such a schedule for reasons related to work-life balance (45.5% of women who worked part-time versus 12.3% of men).

Also playing a role in the decision to spend less time at the office is marital status. EPF found women who work part-time during those prime years are more likely to be married than women who work full-time. Among same-aged women working full-time, 61.7% are married compared to 77.0% of women who choose to work part-time. For men, exactly the opposite is true. Men, between 25 and 65, who work full-time (72.6%), are more likely to be married than men who work part-time (59.3%).

Variations were also found by occupation. For both genders, workers in service occupations were most likely to work part-time – 20.9% of employed men and 36.5% of employed women. The greatest disparity between the number of men and women in part-time positions was found in management, business and financial occupations, with the percentage of men working part-time one-third the percentage of women.

The entire study can be viewed online at .