Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cool Research Link: Working Papers from the 12 Federal Reserve Banks

Think you're working harder than ever? Not so, says new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. A study by Mark Agular, a senior economist at the Boston bank and Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago examines time use over five decades and finds both men and women working less and playing more. Their study, "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," documents the decline in hours spent working by nonretired men and women aged 21 to 65 between 1965 and 2003. Although women in 2003 work more than those in 1965, the authors find the increase in women's work hours have been more than offset by the decline in the time women spend doing housework. During those years, men's work hours declined, although the drop has been somewhat offset by an increase in the amount of time men spend doing household chores such as shopping, food preparation, and cleaning. Overall, the amount of time men and women spend in market (paid) work has dropped from 34.24 to 33.01 hours per week, a decline of 1.23 hours. The amount of time men and women spend doing household chores has dropped from 23.52 to 18.00 hours, a decline of 5.52 hours since 1965. Total hours of work per week, then, have fallen (and leisure increased) by an average of 7.60 hours among men and 6.44 hours among women. 

This is just one of many fascinating studies generated by the nation's 12 Federal Reserve Banks (in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland,
Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco). If you burrow into each bank's Research link, you can find studies on the economic impact of early childhood education (Minneapolis), on whether black workers pay a price for having ethnic names (St. Louis), and a theory of political cycles (Richmond). Most important to many researchers is the analysis of regional economic trends generated by each bank. Those who want an in-depth exploration of how businesses and consumers are faring in a specific region should take a look at that area's Federal Reserve Bank research.  

No comments: