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A Century of Work and Leisure

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  • Valerie A. Ramey
  • Neville Francis

Abstract

We develop comprehensive measures of time spent in market work, home production, schooling, and leisure in the United States for the last 106 years. We find that hours of work for prime age individuals are essentially unchanged, with the rise in women's hours fully compensating for the decline in men's hours. Hours worked by those 14 to 24 years old have declined noticeably, but most of this decline was offset by a rise in hours spent in school. Overall, per capita leisure and average annual lifetime leisure increased by only four or five hours per week during the last 100 years. (JEL D13, J16, J22)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 189-224

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:189-224

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.1.2.189
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  1. Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Staff Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 321, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "Hours Worked (Long-Run Trends)," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports, Economie d'Avant Garde 10, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  3. Benhabib, Jess & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1991. "Homework in Macroeconomics: Household Production and Aggregate Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1166-87, December.
  4. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher A. Pissarides, 2008. "Trends in Hours and Economic Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 239-256, April.
  5. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1990. "Sleep and the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 922-43, October.
  6. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "Human Capital and Social Capital: The Rise of Secondary Schooling in America, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948-1969," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend73-1, July.
  8. Babcock, Phillip & Marks, Mindy, 2010. "The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7rc9d7vz, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  9. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  10. Perli, Roberto & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 1998. "Human capital formation and business cycle persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-92, June.
  11. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z., 1991. "The Allocation of Capital and Time Over the Business Cycles," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics 9104, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  12. Greenwood,J. & Seshadri,A. & Yorukoglu,M., 2002. "Engines of liberation," Working papers, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems 1, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  13. Siu, Henry, 2006. "The fiscal role of conscription in the US World War II effort," Economics working papers, Vancouver School of Economics siu-06-04-26-12-42-20, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 26 Apr 2006.
  14. Claudia Goldin, 1999. "A Brief History of Education in the United States," NBER Historical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Costa, Dora L, 2000. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 156-81, January.
  16. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  17. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
  18. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  19. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  20. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "The U.S. Structural Transformation and Regional Convergence: A Reinterpretation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 584-616, June.
  21. Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1993. "Working in the Market, Working at Home, and the Acquisition of Skills: A General-Equilibrium Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 893-907, September.
  22. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, July.
  23. Kristin Roberts & Peter Rupert, 1995. "The myth of the overworked American," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jan.
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