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Abstract

This study is among the first to analyze fathers’ preference for shorter working hours specifying that the preference is related to the wish to spend more time with the family. Assuming that preferences are context-dependent, this article explores the relevance of the family and workplace context for preference formation. We develop need-based and capability-based arguments to contrast the job demands–resources approach and the capabilities approach in work–family research. Using a sample of 632 fathers from the German LEEP-B3 data with a representative linked employer–employee design for large work organizations we conclude that fathers’ preferences for shorter working hours are indeed context-dependent and that there is more evidence for need-based arguments than opportunity based arguments. Our results indicate that fathers with young children and fathers with high work demands are more likely to desire shorter working hours, whereas a reduction in working hours appears to be unnecessary for fathers who can satisfactorily reconcile work and family life through support from their supervisors. In contrast to capability-based arguments the perception of a highly demanding work culture was not found to decrease but increase the likelihood to desire to work shorter hours.