Leisure in Japan, 1986–2006: A Revival?
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Japan is famous for long working hours. For decades the Japanese government has tried to influence how people spend their free time. In 5-yearly surveys since 1986 the government has surveyed “quality of life,” gauging how much time people spend daily in various activities, including “leisure.” Analyzing results from these time use surveys, from 2006 back to 1986, and controlling for labor market conditions, this study determines whether time spent on leisure activities has actually changed. Gains in some types of leisure have been fleeting. Yet in other respects leisure has been enhanced, with significant increases occurring in active recreational pastimes. Nevertheless, leisure remains elusive for mid-career employees. Moreover, there is a pronounced gender gap for leisure time.
KeywordsLifestyle issues Leisure time Time use in Japan
An earlier draft of this study was presented in Bonn, Germany during the IZA conference on “Nonmarket Time in Economics.” Thanks to Daniel Hamermesh, Christine Emerson Marston, Leila Pratt, and James Schmidt for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts. Prior to availability of the 2006 “Time Use” data, a working paper version of this study focusing only on 1986–2001 was included as part of the IZA Discussion Paper series.
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