Trends in American leisure time

In: Uncategorized

9 Mar 2007

An interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times by Hal Varian, a professor of business at the University of California, Berkeley, argues against the view that leisure time has increased over the years: “When you account for the much longer time in school, the more or less constant amount of time spent on housework, and make a few other adjustments, hours spent on purely enjoyable activities haven’t changed that much in the last century.”

Even if he is right he paints a picture of a much improved society. The fact that children and teenagers are spending longer in school, rather than working from a young age, is surely to be welcomed. And the quality of housework has improved enormously too: “One hundred years ago, it was a luxury to have clean clothes, a tidy house and a cooked meal. Today these things are viewed as necessities of life.”

One of the references Varian points to on long-term trends in leisure is a paper (PDF) by Valerie Ramey of the University of California, San Diego and Neville Francis of the University of North Carolina.

Comment Form