IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

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

  • Mark Aguiar
  • Erik Hurst

In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time within the United States. We find that a dramatic increase in leisure time lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked between 1965 and 2003. Specifically, using a variety of definitions for leisure, we show that leisure for men increased by roughly six to nine hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by roughly four to eight hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours). 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. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 122 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 969-1006

in new window

Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:3:p:969-1006
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2004. "Consumption vs. Expenditure," NBER Working Papers 10307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Peter Gottschalk & Susan E. Mayer, 1997. "Changes in Home Production and Trends in Economic Inequality," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 382, Boston College Department of Economics.
  3. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
  4. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  5. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Staff Report 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Benhabib, Jess & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1991. "Homework in Macroeconomics: Household Production and Aggregate Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1166-87, December.
  7. Kooreman, Peter & Kapteyn, Arie, 1987. "A Disaggregated Analysis of the Allocation of Time within the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 223-49, April.
  8. John Knowles, 2005. "Why are Married Men Working So Much?," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-031, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2006. "A Century of Work and Leisure," NBER Working Papers 12264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Richard Freeman & Ronald Schettkat, 2002. "Marketization of Production and the US-Europe Employment Gap," CEP Discussion Papers dp0559, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Rupert, Peter & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 2000. "Homework in labor economics: Household production and intertemporal substitution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 557-579, December.
  12. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  13. Reuben Gronau, 1976. "Leisure, Home Production and Work--The Theory of The Allocation of Time Revisited," NBER Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Joseph G. Altonji & Emiko Usui, 2007. "Work Hours, Wages, and Vacation Leave," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(3), pages 408-428, April.
  15. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Life-Cycle Prices and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1533-1559, December.
  16. Jeremy Greenwood & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "Hours Worked: Long-Run Trends," NBER Working Papers 11629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2003. "Engines of Liberation," RCER Working Papers 503, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  18. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 5459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Peter Rupert & Richard Rogerson & Randall Wright, 1994. "Estimating substitution elasticities in household production models," Staff Report 186, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Pollak, Robert A & Wachter, Michael L, 1975. "The Relevance of the Household Production Function and Its Implications for the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 255-77, April.
  21. Dora L. Costa, 1999. "American Living Standards: Evidence from Recreational Expenditures," NBER Working Papers 7148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Gilbert Ghez & Gary S. Becker, 1975. "The Allocation of Time and Goods over the Life Cycle," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ghez75-1, July.
  23. Vandenbroucke, Guillaume, 2009. "Trends in hours: The U.S. from 1900 to 1950," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 237-249, January.
  24. Jordi Gali, 2005. "Trends in Hours, Balanced Growth, and the Role of Technology in the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 11130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Karen Kopecky, 2005. "The Trend in Retirement," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 12, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  26. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," NBER Working Papers 9202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 183-207, March.
  28. Dora L. Costa, 1997. "Less of a Luxury: The Rise of Recreation since 1888," NBER Working Papers 6054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1989. "Sleep and the Allocation of Time," NBER Working Papers 2988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2005. "Why Not Retire? The Time and Timing Costs of Market Work," Working Papers wp104, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  31. Schettkat, Ronald, 2002. "Differences in US-German time-allocation: Why do Americans work longer hours than Germans?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 02-212, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  32. Orazio Attanasio & Steven J. Davis, 1994. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Papers and articles using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS)

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:3:p:969-1006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.