Many Americans say that they are just too stressed, too overworked, and don't have enough time for themselves. It makes for great heart-wrenching human interest stories, but according to a new study highlighted in this week's Economist (Subscribe) we have more leisure time today than we did 30 years ago. (today 2/8 at&t is giving away a free day pass for watching a 30 second commercial if you aren't a regular subscriber, working paper available here)
We have more leisure time, but feel more overworked. The article poses two possible reasons: 1) we have a higher opportunity cost for our time, thus a walk in the park is more expensive than it was 30 years ago; and 2) since we are more efficient, we are able to do more in a day, and we over-commit (I am guilty of this one).
I've been very skeptical of the "overworked Americans" cry for years. If we're so overworked and underpaid how come there are ipods, tivos, satellite tv, new cars, etc. in every neighborhood? Granted, credit cards finance some of this purchasing, but credit card financing only lasts for so long and from what I can tell the trend towards more stuff has been going steadily for the past 20 years.
Now that we have higher opportunity costs for our time, how come so many people waste it watching reality tv?