American Time Use over the Business Cycle

Ryan D. Edwards, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Macroeconomic fluctuations alter the time allocations of workers who enter or leave employment; job search and leisure both rise. In this paper, I explore the broader impacts of macroeconomic fluctuations on time use among all consumers using the 2003–2007 waves of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Business-cycle variation in the prices of time and assets should in theory affect the time use of all consumers whether they are employed or not, and I find evidence that it does. All consumers report less sleeplessness when unemployment is high, more time spent caring for the elderly, and more time talking on the telephone. Sleeping, socializing, and traveling also rise on average, but the channel through which aggregate unemployment exerts these effects appears to be individual-level job loss. These results shed new light on the channels through which macroeconomic fluctuations affect health and well-being.

  See paper

Presented in Session 114: Consequences of Economic Downturns