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How much free time do we have?

What is free time, and how can we measure it? Following increased demand for time-use data from both policymakers and researchers, in 2013, UNECE published the Guidelines for Harmonizing Time-Use Surveys. Free time was defined as time spent on activities such as volunteer work and meetings, helping other households, socializing and entertainment, sports and outdoor activities, hobbies and games, reading, watching TV, resting or doing nothing.

In the 9 countries from the UNECE region which have provided data since 2013, people report spending on average between 4 and 6 hours daily (including weekends and holiday periods) on free time activities. Of these countries, Serbia reported the most time spent on such activities (6 hours 10 minutes) while Belarus reported the least (4 hours 16 minutes).

In addition to variations by countries, variations by gender exist in time spent on leisure activities. In each of the 9 countries analysed, men reported spending more time on such activities on average than women. The gender gap varied from 9 minutes in Turkey to 1 hour and 11 minutes in Serbia. For both men and women, the most common free time activities were watching TV, videos (including videos on the internet) or playing games. In the countries analysed, men and women spend on average half of their free time on such activities.

For more details, consult the UNECE Statistical Database where you can find detailed data on time use and many other topics.

Time spent on free time activities by sex, 2013-2015 (hours per day)

Source: UNECE Statistical Database.
Notes: TFYR Macedonia refers to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Data for Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Turkey and the US refer to 2015, Luxembourg and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to 2014, and Poland and Greece to 2013. 

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