Friday, February 05, 2010

Leisure time

Chart from page 50 of From Poverty to Prosperity

Defenders of the European social-welfare economic model commonly point out that while Americans may enjoy higher income levels, they also work more than Europeans, who are left with more time to enjoy leisure and the finer things in life.

What this chart illustrates, however, is that it isn't quite so cut and dried. Not all time spent away from the workplace is leisure, with common tasks such as cooking, cleaning and cooking taking up at least some of that time (described in the chart as non-market work). It's entirely possible, and even likely, for someone to work more than another person and yet enjoy a greater amount of leisure time. After all, with the higher level of income that person can pay a maid, order take-out food instead of cooking or even buy a robot to vacuum the carpet.

Just another example of the gains from trade.

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