As I understand it, the leisure gap between men and women has largely to do with the fact that women spend more time taking care of children and (especially) the home. I don’t know if this applies internationally or not. In any case, here’s a graphic illustrating the leisure gap across 18 different countries (via Jezebel):


UPDATE: In the comments, Elena linked to the original OECD report, if you’d like to explore the methodology etc.

A big thanks to Cycles who went and looked it up.  A summary:


Chapter 2, “Special Focus: Measuring Leisure in OECD Countries,” answers most of the questions posed here about what is considered “leisure” and what is not.

Brief overview:

“The approach taken here is to divide time during the day into five main categories. These five-time categories are 1) Leisure, narrowly defined, 2) Paid work, 3) Unpaid work, 4) Personal care, and 5) Other time (uses of time which are either unaccounted for or undefined).”


“‘Paid work’ includes full-time and part-time jobs, breaks in the workplace, commuting to the workplace, time spent looking for work, time spent in school, commuting to and from school, and time spent in paid work at home. “Unpaid work” includes all household work (chores, cooking, cleaning, caring for children and other family and non-family members, volunteering, shopping, etc.). “Personal care” includes sleep, eating and drinking, and other household, medical, and personal services (hygiene, grooming, visits to the doctor, hairdresser etc.). “Leisure” includes hobbies, games, television viewing, computer use, recreational gardening, sports, socialising with friends and family, attending events, and so on. “Other time” includes all activities not elsewhere mentioned.”

… and then it goes into even MORE detail about specific activities within each of those five categories.

I highly recommend reading at least Chapter 2 if you have questions. It includes a fascinating backgrounder on past studies and how they categorized of time-use.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.