Leisure Time

(Are people too busy for leisure?)

Leisure time apparently has not increased over the years

In 1930, the British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that the biggest problem facing future generations would be what to do with all their leisure time.

Although the average hours at work have decreased in the last century, it doesn't necessarily follow that leisure has increased: Nonlabor time is not necessarily time off.

Since the time necessary to do a given amount of housework has gone down, people have chosen to do more of it.

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.

When we 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.

—Compiled from excerpts presented in
"It's still a rat race, and it isn't any slower: Study finds little gain in leisure time"
by Hal R. Varian in the International Herald Tribune, March 9, 2007; page 13.