Friday, July 07, 2017

Are Video Games Behind The Decline in Young Men's Work Hours?

Young men are working fewer hours than they once did, and a new study suggests a novel reason for the decline—better video games.

Between 2000 and 2015, the number of hours men aged 21 to 30 worked for pay fell 12 percent, report researchers in a National Bureau of Economic Research study. The percentage of young men who did not work at all, excluding full-time students, climbed from 8 to 15 percent during those years.

To find out why work hours fell, the researchers look at trends in the work hours and leisure time of young men between 2004–07 and 2012–15. As work hours fell, leisure time increased. Young men devoted three-quarters of their increased leisure time to gaming and computers. Using data from the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey, the researchers test their theory that "improved leisure technology raised the return to non-market time and consequently increased the reservation wage of younger men." In other words, it takes more money than it once did to lure young men away from video games.

"Technology growth for recreational computer activities, by increasing the marginal value of leisure, accounts for 23 to 46 percent of the decline in market work for younger men during the 2000s," the researchers conclude.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men, Working Paper 23552 ($5)

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