Statistics on Leisure

Content

1. The right to leisure
2. Types of leisure
2.1. Hours worked
2.2. Rest
2.3. Paid holidays, including public holidays, statutory minimum
2.4. Paid parental leave
2.5. Retirement
3. Inequality of leisure

1. The right to leisure

Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants every human the right to leisure and rest. And rightly so, because toil and inhuman working conditions make it impossible to enjoy any other human right or any meaningful human activity. One way to guarantee a reasonable measure of leisure is to limit the number of hours worked per day. Another way is to grant people a certain number of paid (public) holidays and a number of days of annual leave (see also article 24).

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2. Types of leisure

2.1. Hours worked

In many countries, the numbers of hours worked have come down over the years.

Screen-Shot-2014-01-14-at-3.25.18-PM-e1389731173222

annual hours worked per person

(source)

working_hours_picture_2

(source)

One reason for these reduction is the decreasing labor time cost for commodities:

labor time cost of commodities

(source)

However, large differences in hours worked persist between countries:

hours worked

(source)

And then we’re not even looking at poor countries.

Also, given the enormous increases in productivity and automation over the last decades, one could have expected larger cuts in hours worked. The reason isn’t clear: maybe people don’t want leisure and prefer ever increasing riches; maybe consumption competition is the cause; or maybe governments don’t provide the necessary legal framework such as a basic income, a consumption tax or paid holidays. Or maybe people want leisure but prefer to do very expensive things in their time off, meaning that they need to work hard.

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2.2. Rest

Despite this reduction in hours worked, many of us claim that we’re not well-rested:

rest

(source, data for the US)

feeling rushed

(source, data for the US)
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2.3. Paid holidays, including public holidays, statutory minimum

Here’s an international comparison of the number of paid holidays (not including public holidays) across rich countries (poor countries, of course, have other priorities):

paid vacation international

(source)

The U.S. has 0 days because there’s no legislation imposing a statutory minimum of vacation days, which doesn’t mean Americans have no annual leave. Companies grant their employees vacation days on a voluntary basis.

Here’s a country comparison that includes public holidays:

numbers of holidays throughout the world

(source)

paid annual leave

(source)

vacation+1

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2.4. Paid parental leave

Apart from paid public holidays and paid annual leave (whether mandatory or voluntary), workers in some countries can enjoy paid parental leave – mostly for mothers but sometimes also for fathers:

parental leave

(source)

Parental leave can take many forms: days off after the birth of a child, leave for attending to a sick child, breast-feeding breaks etc.

(source)

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers paid time off to provide care to a new child.

maternity leave map

(source)

paid maternity leave - map

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2.5. Retirement

Another element of leisure is retirement. It seems cruel and unjust to force people to work for a living until the day they die.

years in retirement

(source)
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3. Inequality of leisure

There’s a leisure gap between men and women (on top of other gaps):

Leisure Time by gender

(source)

In the U.S.,

those with more leisure, and who are benefiting from a disproportionate rise in leisure, tend to be those with lower skill levels. (source)

leisure hours per week by gender and skill level

gender gap leisure

(source)
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4 thoughts on “Statistics on Leisure

  1. Pingback: Political Graffiti (225): The Right to Leisure | P.a.p.-Blog, Human Rights Etc.

  2. Pingback: Political Graffiti (227): Leisure | P.a.p.-Blog, Human Rights Etc.

  3. かまくらサーフアー says:

    I appreciate the intent of this article, and enjoyed the stats. However it should be clear that time off work does not guarantee leisure; it only guarantees freedom from work. Is the fat sleeping guy on the couch in item 3 engaged in leisure? That doesn’t look like “meaningful human activity” to me. That looks like a guy worn down by the all-encompassing total world of work :D

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