Does too much work hamper innovation? Evidence for diminishing returns of work hours for patent grants

Mehmet Guney Celbis & Serdar Turkeli


This study suggests that individual time is an important factor that needs to be considered in innovation research. We define two types of time: work time and free time. We find that work time has a positive but diminishing effect on innovative output such that after a certain point the innovation-enhancing role of work time is taken over by individual free time. Using a sample of OECD countries and Russia, we estimate a quadratic relationship between work time and per capita innovative output. For a hypothetical economy that has no other holidays but weekends, we estimate that individuals should not work more than about 6.6 hours a day for maximizing innovative output. We also present a categorization of countries based on their innovative output and work hours that may kindle interest for certain case-specific future research.

Key words: Innovation, Patents, Working Hours, Time, Neo-Capital Theories, Network Failures

JEL Classification: O30, O31, J08, J22, M5

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