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Study: America’s Poorly-Educated Spend Less Time-Off with Family or Friends

Update Date: Jul 09, 2012 11:28 AM EDT

Stressed-out Americans with little or no education are said to have less "quality time" to enjoy themselves, a new London study claims.

Researchers used information from the American Heritage Time Use Study (AHTUS) between 1965 and 2003. AHTUS respondents recorded their activities over 24-hour periods, including leisure e.g. watching television, playing sport and socializing.

According to the researchers, poorly-educated Americans, those with a high school diploma or less, experienced more leisure time, about 3 hours and 40 minutes extra, by 2003 than people with at least some college education, but spend less of that time with a partner or friends.

The study suggests that highly-educated people, those with some college education or more, appear to have less time off for leisure, but this is compensated for by the fact that what time is spent in recreation is better quality.

According to the findings, highly-educated American men still spent as much time with their partner in 2003 as in 1965, for example, although they did spend slightly less time with other adult - about seven percent. Women with higher education spent over 8 per cent more time with a spouse by 2003, but 4.9 percent less time with other adults. College-educated women have more leisure times in a day - 0.35 per cent compared to 0.26 for low-educated women - and those times last 14.5 per cent longer than in 1965.

Significant findings

Between 1965 and 2003:

o    Men's average hours of leisure increased from 28 hours to 33 hours and 30 minutes

o    Women's leisure time also increased by three hours and 30 minutes from 27 hours

o    By 2003, low-educated men and women had, respectively, three hours and 35 minutes, and three hours and 45 minutes more leisure than highly-educated men and women

o    The increase in leisure time for low-educated men accounts for almost five hours and 15 minutes per week

o    For women, those of low-education gained 3.5 hours of leisure against highly educated ones

o    By 2003, low-educated women enjoyed 5.5 more hours per week of leisure, compared to an increase of two hours of leisure per week for women with higher education

o    The rate of pure leisure decreased 5 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively, for men and women

o    Pure leisure declined a lot more for low-educated men than those who are highly-educated (one hour and 35 minutes a week versus 50 minutes)

o    Low-educated women experienced 1 hour and 50 minutes less pure leisure time compared to one hour for highly-educated women

o    Women have more episodes of leisure in a day, but they are more fragmented and the duration of those intervals is shrinking

o    For less well educated women, the average duration of leisure intervals increased by 21 minutes a day. It was 14 minutes a day for highly-educated women

o    Highly-educated women also experienced more fragmented leisure time than less-educated women

o    Leisure time spent in the company of a wife or partner declined by one hour for men of low-education, a trend not experienced by highly-educated men

o    Highly-educated women had one hour and 10 minutes per week more leisure time with a spouse. It was only 25 minutes more for their lower-educated counterparts

o    The percentage of leisure with adults decreased for men and women by an average of 13 and 7 percentage points, respectively

o    Low-educated men and women spent less time socializing in company to a greater extent than highly-educated people

The new findings, Leisure Inequality in the US: 1965-2003, will be published in the journal Demography in August 2012. 

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