For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Time Use, Unemployment, and Well-Being: An Empirical Analysis Using British Time-Use Data"

by Hoang, Thi Truong An; Knabe, Andreas (2021)


We use nationally representative data from the UK Time-Use Survey 2014/2015 to investigate how a person’s employment status is related to time use and cognitive and affective dimensions of subjective well-being. We do not find clear indications that employed and unemployed persons experience different average levels of emotional well-being when they engage in the same kinds of activities. For the employed, working belongs to one of the least enjoyable activities of their day. They also spend a large share of their time at work and on work-related activities. The unemployed, instead, spend more time on leisure and more enjoyable activities. When looking at duration-weighted average affective well-being over the entire waking time of the day, the unemployed experience, on average, more enjoyment than the employed. For the employed, the more hours they have to work on a specific day, the lower the average enjoyment they experience on that day. Differentiating the analyses by weekdays and weekends supports the finding that being able to freely allocate one’s non-work time is associated with higher levels of affective well-being. In line with previous studies on cognitive well-being, we find that the unemployed report substantially lower levels of life satisfaction than the employed.


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