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A Century of Work and Leisure

  • Valerie A. 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 %u201Cper capita%u201D 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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12264.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2009. "A Century of Work and Leisure," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 189-224, July.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12264
Note: EFG LS
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  13. 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.
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  18. 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.
  19. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
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