Social Indicators Research

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 403–434 | Cite as

Leisure Time in Modern Societies: A New Source of Boredom and Stress?

  • Max Haller
  • Markus Hadler
  • Gerd Kaup


The increase in leisure time over the last century is well documented. We know much less, however, about the quality of the use of leisure time. Quite divergent predictions exist in this regard: Some authors have argued that the new, extensive free time will lead to new forms of time pressure and stress; others have foreseen an expansion of boredom. This is the first paper that systematically investigates the quality of leisure time in 36 countries around the world. It uses the 2007 ISSP-survey “Leisure Time and Sport”. We investigate stress and boredom during leisure time by making use of four general theories about international and intercultural differences. The theories relate to the level of socio-economic development, religious–cultural systems, types of welfare states, and to the emergence of specific “time regimes”. In addition, we control for the effect of relevant individual level variables. At the macro level, significant differences emerge concerning the level of development, the dominant religion, and the extent of welfare benefits. The most interesting finding, however, was that a typology of leisure time regimes is the most suited to explain the considerable differences between the 36 countries compared. Implications of this finding for time policy and further research are discussed in the concluding section.


Leisure time Boredom Time stress International comparative research 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 272 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyKarl Franzens-UniversityGrazAustria
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Social AnthropologyMarshall UniversityHuntingtonUSA

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