This was no time for play.
This was no time for fun.
This was no time for games.
There was work to be done.
– The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958)
Great Hal Varian column in this morning’s Times on the future of leisure. A new study shows that leisure time remains flat, despite economists and futurists for decades claiming our eventual problem would be not knowing what to do with all our leisure.
Here is Hal on the subject, with a mention of how housework’s expansion shows how leisure is such a slippery notion:
Advances in technology have made housework much less onerous and time-consuming than it once was: a century ago it took four hours to do a load of laundry and 4.5 hours to iron it. Today it takes 41 minutes to wash a load of laundry, and modern fabrics need much less ironing.
But since the time necessary to do a given amount of housework has gone down, people have chosen to do more of it. One hundred years ago, it was a luxury to have clean clothes, a tidy house and a cooked meal. Today these things are viewed as necessities of life.