Time Poverty

HoursWorked1960to2006The following is reproduced from Take Back Your Time’s web site (“Why Should I Care?” section). For a great read, consider “The Overworked American” by Juliet Schor.


Millions of Americans are overworked, over-scheduled and just plain stressed out.

  • We’re putting in longer hours on the job now than we did in the 1950s, despite promises of a coming age of leisure before the year 2000.
  • In fact, we’re working more than medieval peasants did, and more than the citizens of any other industrial country.
  • Mandatory overtime is at near record levels, in spite of a recession.
  • On average, we work nearly nine full weeks (350 hours) LONGER per year than our peers in Western Europe do.
  • Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation per year, while Europeans average five to six weeks. Many of us (including 37% of women earning less than $40,000 per year) get no paid vacation at all.

Contemporary Americans complain of unprecedented levels of busyness in everyday life. They worry about frenetic schedules, hurried children, couples with no time together, families who rarely eat meals together, and an onslaught of “hidden work” from proliferating emails, junk mail, and telemarketing calls. The Girl Scouts recently introduced a “Stress Free” merit badge for today’s harried young girls.

Click Here To Download This Poster & Others CANADIANS FEEL THE PRESSURE TOO

While Canadians work somewhat less than Americans do, and enjoy longer vacations and paid family leave, they are also working more now than a generation ago and feeling the pressure of time stress and hurried lifestyles. Many have joined our campaign.


  • Time stress threatens our health. It leads to fatigue, accidents and injuries. It reduces time for exercise and encourages consumption of calorie-laden fast foods. Job stress and burnout costs the U.S. economy more than $300 billion a year.
  • Time stress threatens our marriages, families and relationships as we find less time for each other, less time to care for our children and elders, less time to just hang out.
  • It weakens our communities. We have less time to know our neighbors, supervise our young people, and volunteer.
  • It reduces employment as fewer people are hired and then required to work longer hours, or are hired for poor part-time jobs without benefits.
  • It leaves many of us with little time to vote, much less be informed, active citizens.
  • It leaves us little time for ourselves, for self-development, or for spiritual growth.
  • It leads to growing neglect and abuse of pets.
  • It even contributes to the destruction of our environment. Studies show that lack of time encourages use of convenience and throwaway items and reduces recycling.

2 thoughts on “Time Poverty”

  1. Pingback: Life Design: An Evolving Plan for a Physical Community | Sustainable Well-being

  2. Pingback: Top 6 lessons learned living in cohousing: A psychologist’s view | One Planet Thriving

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *