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Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades

66 Pages Posted: 11 May 2006  

Erik Hurst

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

Mark Aguiar

Princeton University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time. We find that a dramatic increase in leisure time lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked (per working-age adult) between 1965 and 2003. Specifically, we show that leisure for men increased by 6-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by 4-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours). This increase in leisure corresponds to roughly an additional 5 to 10 weeks of vacation per year, assuming a 40-hour work week. Alternatively, the "consumption equivalent" of the increase in leisure is valued at 8 to 9 percent of total 2003 U.S. consumption expenditures. We also find that leisure increased during the last 40 years for a number of sub-samples of the population, with less-educated adults experiencing the largest increases. Lastly, we document a growing "inequality" in leisure that is the mirror image of the growing inequality of wages and expenditures, making welfare calculation based solely on the latter series incomplete.

Suggested Citation

Hurst, Erik and Aguiar, Mark, Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades (March 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12082. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=888284

Erik Hurst (Contact Author)

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

Mark Aguiar

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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