This is the final post in a series on how Americans live, based off the The US Labor Department  2011 Time Use Survey.

In sum, Americans work hard.

Those with household children under 6 spend on average:

  • 2.85 hours a day doing housework (Women: 3.16)
  • 2.33 hours a day caring for children (Women: 2.59)
  • 30 minutes a day on education

And that excludes the hours they spend in the paid workforce!

You can’t say they play hard from the ATUS.¬†

  • If children or the elderly aren’t around to be looked after, the leisure time gets dumped into the Television sink – 2.57 weekday hours, 3.19 weekend hours.
  • General (unattributable) game playing time is highest amongst youth – 1.03 weekday hours a day among 15 to 19 year olds
  • Time spent doing drugs was negligible

Americans exhausted by the end of the day.

Many Americans collapse into the couch.

Throughout this series we’ve seen three facts about the figures presented:

  • They very likely do not agree with your own life

The average of the averages don’t capture nuances the hours spent raising children or helping the elderly, working in the paid labor force, or the consequences of second-jobs. It’s unlikely that anybody can simultaneously have no children and many children, so, naturally, averages will frequently disagree with your life. Your life is a poor benchmark for assessing the world, however, it’s the most intimate one you got.

  • They don’t describe your own life consistently

How you live your life on a weekday MAY differ from a weekend. In fact, there are instances in some ways that people live where there is effectively no difference between a weekend and a weekday.

  • A few figures conflict with what you know from other sources

Methodological choices were made that affect how the figures are aggregated and reported. While these are boring to most, they are important. It’s not that the ATUS is wrong on computer usage. It just has a different objective, and that objective colors the figures. We’re extraordinarily quick to dismiss conflicting pieces of data for no apparent reason other than it causes dissonance.

If you haven’t done so already, and you’re curious, check out the ATUS.

There’s plenty more.


I’m Christopher Berry.
Follow me @cjpberry
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