I\’m told that I have to provide a comprehensive critique of this report.
It\’s an attempt to show that Canadians are ever more stretched for time in this worst of all modern worlds.
So here is my comprehensive critique.
Yes, I know very academic of me and all that. But it is bollocks, entirely and totally so.
We\’ve a well established method of looking at time use. It\’s called a time use survey (hey, don\’t ever think economists aren\’t inventive with their nomenclature!).
A Canadian version of this is here.
We look at paid (or market) working hours and, as you can see, that includes all those pesky things like commutes, answering emails from home and so on.
We also look at unpaid or household production work. Scraping up the kiddie vomit, washing hubbies work shirts, cooking meals , maintaining the car and so on (presumably in Canada, digging the wolverines out of the driveway for half the year as well…wolverines are a type of domestic pet aren\’t they? Or maybe it\’s digging the cat out of the wolverine they have to do?).
We also look at personal time: you can\’t have someone else sleep for you, eat for you or wash for you so these aren\’t either unpaid or paid labour.
The balancing item to get us to 24 hours is therefore leisure.
Now, these boundaries aren\’t hard and fast: sex for example. This can indeed be a solo leisure activity, anyone in a long term relationship knows that in can sometimes be unpaid labour and of course it\’s possible, although we don\’t count it as such, for such unpaid labour to be replaced by paid market work.
Fortunately, except in Quebec, sex doesn\’t make up enough of the day to make such blurred distinctions important. But this is to note that the divisions aren\’t quite as rigid as these surveys make out.
Still, this is an internationally recognised way of measuring how much work, paid and unpaid, people are doing and thus how much personal time and leisure is happening.
If you wanted to see how time pressures were changing over time you would compare a recent (as linked to above) listing of how Canadians spend their time with an earlier one. Like this one perhaps. And if you were in Canada you might even be able to get that data to compare it.
And I have no doubt that what you would find is what has been happening all over the western or rich world for decade upon decade.
Male paid working hours have been declining. Male unpaid or houshold working hours have been declining. Female unpaid working hours have been declining and female paid or market working hours have been increasing. However, for women, the decline (as a result of technology, wonderful things like washing machines and microwaves) has been greater than the increase. And for both sexes for many decades leisure hours have been increasing.
So, why is this report that I\’m supposed to be critiquing entirely and purely bollocks?
Because that\’s not what the purveyors of the report wanted to show. So, therefore they ignore all of the standard methods of measuring working and leisure time, they don\’t even provide the figures from the Canadian Govts own time use surveys. They go off and make up their own measures. This is known in the trade as the lie indirect.
As an example, instead of measuring actual leisure time they decide to measure subjective \”time pressure\”. If people feel pressed for time then this must mean that they have less time.
Err, no. In an ever richer world we all have many more options (for example, women are not now limited to pumping out entire hockey squads and caring for them, they can become leader of the Conservative Party). Many more options brings us to what economists call opportunity costs. Precisely because we have many more options, even precisely because we have many more leisure options (do I listen to my iPad? Read Wired on my iPod? Turn on my Rampant Rabbit? Have a kaffeeklatsch?) even though we have more leisure time we feel, subjectively, more pressure on that greater leisure time.
This is, sadly, simply entirely and totally bollocks this report and shouldn\’t be given credence or houseroom.
Anyone who wants to measure whether Canadians are working more or less should look up (and they\’ll have to be in Canada to do this) the equivalent of this table from the last however many General Social Surveys it has been calculated for and come back to us with the all important answer: have leisure hours risen or fallen over the decades?
All else is bollocks.