Time Use During Recessions

55 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2011 Last revised: 30 Apr 2013

See all articles by Mark Aguiar

Mark Aguiar

Princeton University

Erik Hurst

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Loukas Karabarbounis

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2011

Abstract

We use data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), covering both the recent recession and the pre-recessionary period, to explore how foregone market work hours are allocated to other activities over the business cycle. Given the short time series, it is hard to distinguish business cycle effects from low frequency trends by simply comparing time spent on a given category prior to the recession with time spent on that category during the recession. Instead, we identify the business cycle effects on time use using cross state variation with respect to the severity of the recessions. We find that roughly 30% to 40% of the foregone market work hours are allocated to increased home production. Additionally, 30% of the foregone hours are allocated to increased sleep time and increased television watching. Other leisure activities absorb 20% of the foregone market work hours. We use our evidence from the ATUS to calibrate and test the predictions of workhorse macroeconomic models with home production. We show that the quantitative implications of these models regarding the allocation of time over the business cycle matches reasonably well the actual behavior of households.

Suggested Citation

Aguiar, Mark and Hurst, Erik and Karabarbounis, Loukas, Time Use During Recessions (July 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17259, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1898515

Mark Aguiar (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Erik Hurst

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Loukas Karabarbounis

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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