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Prof. Hamermesh- Inaugural Lecture: What do we do when we are not working?

Posted on 28/01/2014

Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh

Students, Academics and Visitors stepped away from their usual Monday night plans to attend Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh’s inaugural lecture ‘It’s about time’ that took place last night (27th January 2014) in the Windsor Building Auditorium.

Vice Principal and Dean of Management and Economics, Professor Bob O’Keefe, kicked off the evening with a short background on Hamermesh, which is pretty impressive to say the least; a Sue Killam Professor in the Foundation of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. His A.B. is from the University of Chicago (1965), his Ph.D. from Yale (1969). He has taught at Princeton and Michigan State. He has lectured at over 225 universities in 47 U.S. states and 32 other countries. His research, published in nearly 100 refereed papers in scholarly journals. He has also recently been awarded the prestigious IZA prize in Labor Economics for his fundamental contributions to the field of labor economics, presenting innovative, thought-provoking and stimulating research as well as the Jacob Mincer Award from the Society of Labour Economists in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the field of labour economics. Dan H Inaugural Lecture

The lecture itself asked the question: What do we do when we are not working? What’s really scarce in our lives? And the answer is time, and in a cross-country framework over time it set out how people use their time when they are not working, how this differs by gender, age, education and other characteristics, and the economic determinants of these differences.

But how do we measure how people spend their time? Hamermesh classified these into four categories: Work for pay, Work around the house i.e. cooking and cleaning, Personal activities i.e. sleeping, eating and Leisure activities i.e. watching television, exercising and religious activities.

Now it was not surprising to find out that in rich countries a lot of the time is spent on work around the house, leisure - predominantly TV watching, and even more in personal activities- a third of an average adults day is spent in sleep. However what is crucial to note is that Work for pay is the least important in the categories of spending time for the UK and Europe. Whereas in the US, which is quite easily classified as a rich country, spend more time in Work for pay than work at home.

As a result of this, Hamermesh touched on some really interesting subjects such as: when are these long hours being worked, workholism, the ‘feeling’ of being pressed for time and what would happen if we had more time.

The lecture was rounded off with a few questions from the audience and a lovely reception which included plenty of champagne and an array of tasty treat.

You can listen to the full lecture here.


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