Steven Landsburg in Slate takes a moment from his busy schedule to discuss leisure trends in the American workforce. According to a meta-study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (from way back in January 2006, available on-line), leisure time has risen dramatically among most population segments over the past 40 years. But the most significant increases have been in an unexpected place:
By and large, the biggest leisure gains have gone precisely to those with the most stagnant incomes — that is, the least skilled and the least educated. And conversely, the smallest leisure gains have been concentrated among the most educated, the same group that’s had the biggest gains in income.
Compared to their 1965 counterparts — people with similar family size, age, and education — modern Americans have gained 4 to 8 hours a week of leisure time, or approximately seven extra weeks of leisure per year. Those in the lower income and lower education groups have gained up to 14 hours per week.
In the arts, where the primary ticket-buying and donation-giving cohort is more highly educated and of higher income, the shift in leisure time is an obvious concern. But we can be grateful that, on average, we have an additional 4 to 8 hours each week to worry about it.
By the way, if you’re struggling to decide how much time to spend at work and how much at leisure, the research paper offers the following formula. I hope you find it as helpful as I did: