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A Century of Work and Leisure

  • Valerie Ramey

    ()

  • Neville Francis

    ()

Has leisure increased over the last century? Standard measures of hours worked suggest that it has. In this paper, we develop a comprehensive measure of non-leisure hours that includes market work, home production, commuting and schooling for the last 105 years. We also present empirical and theoretical arguments for a definition of “per capita†that encompasses the entire population. The new measures reveal a number of interesting 20th Century trends. First, 70 percent of the decline in hours worked has been offset by an increase in hours spent in school. Second, contrary to conventional wisdom, average hours spent in home production are actually slightly higher now than they were in the early part of the 20th Century. Finally, leisure per capita is approximately the same now as it was in 1900 [NBER WP No. 12264].

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:546
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  1. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher A. Pissarides, 2006. "Trends in Hours and Economic Growth," CEP Discussion Papers dp0746, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2006. "The Source of Historical Economic Fluctuations: An Analysis Using Long-Run Restrictions," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2004, pages 17-73 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dora L. Costa, 1998. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," NBER Working Papers 6504, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jeremy Greenwood & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "Hours Worked (Long-Run Trends)," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 10, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  5. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  6. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans Work so Much More than Europeans?," NBER Working Papers 10316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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, vol. 83(4), pages 893-907, September.
  8. Jess Benhabib & Richard Rogerson & Randall Wright, 1991. "Homework in macroeconomics: household production and aggregate fluctuations," Staff Report 135, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
  10. Lomborg,Bjørn, 2001. "The Skeptical Environmentalist," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521010689, Junio.
  11. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2005. "Engines of Liberation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 109-133.
  12. Claudia Goldin, 1999. "A Brief History of Education in the United States," NBER Historical Working Papers 0119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1989. "Sleep and the Allocation of Time," NBER Working Papers 2988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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, vol. 109(3), pages 584-616, June.
  15. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  16. Kristin M. Roberts & Peter Rupert, 1995. "The myth of the overworked American," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jan.
  17. Perli, Roberto & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 1998. "Human capital formation and business cycle persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-92, June.
  18. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z., 1991. "The Allocation of Capital and Time Over the Business Cycles," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9104, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  19. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, September.
  20. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006.
  21. Philip S. Babcock & Mindy Marks, 2010. "The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data," NBER Working Papers 15954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. 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.
  23. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948–1969," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend73-1, September.
  24. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
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