Just because work is moving from the tangible/physical to the intangible/information doesn’t necessarily mean that our leisure time is increasing. In fact, while average work hours have declined by traditional measures, leisure has not increased — as the blog
New Economist: Long-run trends in working time and leisure points out:
Over the past century there has been a large decline in average hours worked in what are today’s advanced industrialised countries. Two recent papers have looked at the issue. The first, and best known, is the new NBER working paper by Valerie A. Ramey and Neville Francis: A Century of Work and Leisure. The paper found that much of the decline in US working hours has been offset by more in education:
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.
So, leisure remains the same. On-the-job work declines but education – which is key input to those on-the-job – makes up for much of that decline. And we do more household work — which tracks with the occupational changes over the past 100 years, where household servants were one of largest occupation categories in 1900.
That sounds about right. Although, I wonder about the trend some see toward mixing categories, especially where leisure and work activities blend. Creative and information jobs, I would think, are especially prone to that blending. So, maybe we need a new definitions and measures of leisure and work in the I-Cubed Economy — just as we need new definitions and measures of a lot of things.