Less time for leisure, more household work


From 1971 to 2000, Norwegians spent considerably less time on household work and more time on leisure activities. Now the trend has changed: from 2000 to 2010, time spent on household work has increased somewhat, as has the time we spend on meals. Time for leisure has on the other hand decreased slightly during this period, despite an increase in time spent on PCs and the Internet. Time spent on paid work and education has not changed much.

This is shown in the new time use survey for 2010, in comparison with similar surveys that Statistics Norway has carried out in 1971, 1980, 1990 and 2000. These surveys show figures for an average day, based on all days during a whole year.

Figure 1. Time used for different activities on an average day among persons 16-74 years, 1971-2010. Hours and minutes

1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
Paid work 3.38 3.29 3.37 3.47 3.36
Household work 4.09 3.39 3.31 3.18 3.25
Education 0.2 0.31 0.31 0.25 0.28
Personal needs 10.28 10.15 10.04 9.58 10.12
Leisure 5.1 6.02 6.11 6.24 6.15

10.5 hours for personal needs

The population aged 9-79 years on average spends slightly less than 10.5 hours on personal needs per day, including weekends and holidays. Personal needs include sleep, meals and personal hygiene. We spend about 6.5 hours on leisure activities, about 3.5 hours on income-producing work, about 3.5 hours on household work and 0.75 hours on education. The days we are at work, we spend an average of slightly more than 8 hours on this. When we spend time on education, we use slightly less than 6 hours on this per day.

Stable share of women in paid work

From 1971 to 1990, there has been a fairly steady increase in the percentage of women with paid work per day. The figures for 2000 and 2010 have been at the same level, at around 40 per cent. The development among men has been different. There are still more men than women who spend time on paid work. Thirty-nine per cent of women and 48 per cent of men spend time on paid work on an average day. Persons aged 25-44 years spend most time on paid work. There has been a considerable and even decline in paid work among the older age groups, especially among men. Three per cent of children aged 9-15 years spend time on paid work per day.

Figure 2. Time used for different activities on an average day among persons 9-79 years, by sex. 2010. Hours and minutes

Men Women
Paid work 4.1 3.01
Household work 3 3.5
Education 0.27 0.28
Personal needs 9.59 10.24
Leisure 6.18 6.11

Friday has become a free day for many

In total, there has been a small decrease in time spent on paid work from 2000 to 2010. This is primarily due to a decrease in the share of people working on an average day. Time spent on paid work has particularly decreased on Fridays and Saturdays. This is partly due to the fact that there are fewer at work on these days than 10 years ago. In addition, we spent less time at work on Fridays in 2010 than in 2000.

Decline in household work among women, increase among men

The time women spend on household work per day has declined by about 2 hours between 1971 and 2010. Household work includes housework, maintenance, family care and shopping and services. Among men, the average time spent on household work has increased by about three quarters of an hour in this period, which is mainly caused by more men taking part in this kind of work than before. In total, the time we spend on household work has had a considerable decline in the last 40 years. The percentage that takes part in household work has increased among men in all age groups, but women still do most of the household work.

Time spent on housework halved

Housework, such as food preparation, washing dishes and cleaning, halved between 1971 and 2010 among those who do such work per day. Housework has declined considerably among both working and non-working women. Nevertheless, women still do most of almost all kinds of housework. Also among the children, girls do more housework than boys.

More men do house cleaning

In all age groups, time spent on house cleaning has declined between 1980 and 2010. The reason for this is that women take part in this kind of housework to a lesser degree. More men clean the house in 2010 than before. The same goes for washing dishes and clearing the table after a meal, which has also seen a decline for women. Both women and men now spend less time washing dishes than 30 years ago.

Sunday still a fairly shopping-free day

We don’t spend much more time on shopping per day in 2010 than in 1980. This applies to both sexes. However, considerably more spend time on it now than 40 years ago. Between 2000 and 2010, there has not been any change. In 1980, 5 per cent went shopping on Sundays. In 2010, the share was 20 per cent. Sundays are still mostly a shopping-free day.

More time now spent on meals

Between 1971 and 2000, we were spending less and less time on meals. This trend has changed, and we are now spending more time on meals again; 1 hour and 12 minutes on an average day. This increase in the last 10 years applies to all age groups and both sexes. Persons aged 9-15 years and 16-24 years spend least time on meals. We spend about 20 minutes more time on meals at the weekend than on weekdays.

The time we spend sleeping at night has changed very little from 1971 to 2000. Couples with children are those who get least sleep at night, while children sleep the most.

Decrease in leisure time

The time spent on leisure activities increased for both sexes from 1971 to 2000. However, this trend has been reversed over the last 10 years. This decrease applies to almost all age groups and both sexes, but leisure time has increased for men in the age group 16-24 years and for women aged 67-74 years. The overall time spent on leisure activities has decreased on all days including Saturdays and Sundays. Persons in the age group 25-44 years spend the least time on leisure activities, but they also have the longest working hours.

Less time for socialising

From 1990 to 2010, there has been a decline in the time spent on socialising as the main activity on an average day. We are now spending less time visiting each other. This applies to almost all age groups. More women than men take part in socialising. While older women have most visiting contact with relatives, young people of both sexes have most visiting contact with friends. Older women spend the most time in conversation per day.

Fewer read

During the last 40 years, the percentage who read printed publications per day has declined. Especially fewer men read, and particularly young men. Fewer people are reading newspapers. In particular, there has been a considerable decline in newspaper reading among the younger age groups. Older men are the most likely to read a newspaper.

More television viewing

The time we spend watching television per day saw a steady and clear increase from 1971 to 2010. Both sexes are now watching more television, and the increase mostly relates to the older age groups. In contrast to television viewing, radio listening has declined over the years. Both the percentage that listens to the radio per day and the time spent listening to the radio increase as we grow older.

Use of Internet/PC grows fast

Both computer games and other Internet and PC use have increased considerably from 2000 to 2010. The latter has increased considerably both for men and women. Persons aged 9-24 years in particular are spending a great deal of time on this type of leisure activity per day. Boys aged 9-15 years spend more than 2 hours on average, while girls at the same age spend slightly more than an hour. Women aged 67-79 spend 9 minutes on this type of activity on average.

The article is based on Statistical analyses 125: Tidene skifter. Tidsbruk 1971-2010 (in Norwegian only).