Free time, the time we devote to leisure, is becoming less and less. It has been slowly declining for some years now. Although, with the help of technology it may seem otherwise, the truth is that we have less and less time to spend doing nothing or doing what we like. However, this should not be the case, since having free time benefits our well-being.
In the old days they worked longer hours
Looking back over history, however, work today takes up half as much time as it did in the 19th century. In 1870, for example, work consumed about 3,000 hours a year, twice as much as it does today. In other words, by working less, we should have more free time.
However, OECD statistics show that leisure time is decreasing in many countries around the world. A study conducted by the Financial Times in 13 developed countries shows a decline in leisure hours in eight of them. The study covered three decades, from 1980 to 2010.
In South Korea it decreases by 14%, in the United States by 1%, in the Netherlands by 6%, in Spain by 11% and in Hungary by 5%. The question asked in the study is: why do we have less free time when we work fewer hours?
What is the cause of having less free time?
One of the key issues identified by researchers has to do with child rearing. For, since the 1970s, the hours we devote to raising children have doubled. These tasks leave us less time for outings, a good read or simply watching a movie. Childcare now takes up more of our time and dedication and is truly a priority.
According to the research carried out, in Spain in the 1970s, mothers dedicated half an hour a day to their children. Nowadays, they dedicate two and a half hours a day to their children. This is replicated in almost all the countries that participated in this study.
This is due to the desire to give them an education in keeping with the times and to enable them to fend for themselves in the future. The socioeconomic environment has changed in recent decades and young parents perceive it as much more hostile, so they spend more time preparing their children to face this new world.
Another key is to be found in new technologies. Nowadays, Internet connection and technology have taken over leisure time. This means that the boundaries between leisure and work are no longer distinguishable. Work and leisure today coexist within a small technological device called a smartphone.
In general, each country has different percentages and varies according to customs and idiosyncrasies. Although “I need more hours” is heard more and more frequently.