Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tired Statistics

From Sunday’s Parade Magazine article on 6 Ways to Have More Energy:
Over the past three decades, Americans’ time on-the-job has increased an average of one full month a year. The reality is even worse for working mothers who also may bear the brunt of household duties.
The old trope that Americans have less and less leisure time is very popular. But it just ain’t so. For some actual figures, check out this article from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. According to their calculations, the average American’s weekly leisure time increased over the period 1965-2003, by 6-8 hours a week for men and 4-8 hours a week for women. Of course, the reasons are different for men and women. Women, naturally, are spending more time working in the marketplace, but they are spending less time in non-market work (like housework). For men, the reverse is true. For both, the net effect is a reduction in total hours worked.

Incidentally, the reduction in non-market work by women has not been completely compensated by the increase in on-market work by men. Rather, there’s been an overall reduction in non-market work because of (a) labor-saving devices and (b) outsourcing of household work to the market (such as by eating out more often). Also, it’s worth noting that leisure time is not the same as relaxation; it also includes tiring activities like walking the dog, exercising, and going to the kids’ soccer games.

1 comment:

David said...

The data also tends to ignore that people clump their leisure time at the beginning (high school, college, graduate school) and end (retirement) of their lives, especially as people live longer. If working 80 hours a week means you can retire much earlier, you probably have more leisure time over the course of your life (because there are increasing disutility from labor and decreasing utility from leisure).