Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happiness and Time Use

Yesterday we looked at time use in terms of how we divide our work days. The results of a time use and happiness survey have just been published that indicate some significant differences between men and women:

But there were also a number of activities that produced very different reactions from the two sexes — and one of them really stands out: Men apparently enjoy being with their parents, while women find time with their mom and dad to be slightly less pleasant than doing laundry.

It's possible I should not have exploded with laughter on reading that last sentence. And, because friends and family read my blog, I should note that I really like doing the laundry. Seriously. So why this gap in happiness with parental relations?

Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist working with four psychologists on the time-use research team, figures that there is a simple explanation for the difference. For a woman, time with her parents often resembles work, whether it’s helping them pay bills or plan a family gathering. “For men, it tends to be sitting on the sofa and watching football with their dad,” said Mr. Krueger, who, when not crunching data, enjoys watching the New York Giants with his father.

Clearly I need to get more into football. You can read He's happier, she's less so for more details on time use and happiness (nice interactive graphic too).