The Allocation of Time Over Decades: A Cross-Country Analysis

Jose Ignacio Gimenez-Nadal 1, Almudena Sevilla-Sanz2
1University of Zaragoza, Spain, 2University of Oxford, UK

In this paper, we use several time-diary surveys for a variety of countries and years to analyze general time-use patters during the last 30 years. We find that the time devoted to leisure decreases or is constant for all countries considered from 1970 onwards, except for France, where we observe increases in leisure from 1970. We find a substantial increase in leisure dispersion favoring the less educated individuals that mirrors the increase of income/wage inequality in most of the analyzed countries. “TV Watching” has been the major factor driving the increasing dispersion in leisure in most countries, and the increase in “ TV Watching” has been offset by decreases in activities such as reading, socializing, hobbies and eating. Regarding the rest of activities, women decreased the time devoted to unpaid work, and increased the time devoted to paid work, which is consistent with the increase in female education and labor force participation observed in last decades for developed countries. Men increased and decreased the time devoted to unpaid and paid work, respectively, showing evidence of an international convergence in the time devoted to paid work (44 hours per week in the Australia, Canada, Italy and the US, 40 hours for the rest). Despite evidence showing gender convergence in the time devoted to paid and unpaid work, we still find a gender-specialization pattern, since the increase in the time devoted to market work by women have not been offset by the increase in the time devoted to non-market work by men.

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