We're spending less time playing, sleeping and eating but working longer: ABS


We're spending less time playing, sleeping and eating or drinking, but working longer, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey on how Australians use their time.

In 2006 Australians slept for an average of 8 hours 31 minutes a day, five minutes less than in 1997. Time spent eating and drinking also decreased by 4 minutes a day to 1 hour 29 minutes.

Time spent on recreation and leisure activities has decreased by 1 hour 45 minutes per week since 1997 (to 29 hours 31 minutes a week). We're spending on average an extra hour a week on activities such as watching television and using the Internet than we did in 1997 (16 hours 20 minutes a week spent on audio/visual activities). However, time spent on sport and outdoor activity has decreased by nearly an hour compared to an average week in 1997 (to an average 2 hours 13 minutes a week in 2006).

Men and women spent a similar amount of time on both paid work and unpaid work (such as domestic activities, child care, purchasing, and voluntary work and care), with 51 hours 55 minutes a week for men and 52 hours 58 minutes for women. This is around 2 hours more than in 1997.

Men spent 31 hours 51 minutes a week on paid work in 2006 (up 5% on 1997). This was nearly double the amount of time that women spent on paid work (16 hours 27 minutes a week for women, up 7% on 1997). More people were employed, contributing to the higher average hours of paid work.

However, men spent much less time on unpaid work (20 hours 4 minutes) than did women (36 hours 31 minutes). Domestic activities made up just over half of the time spent on unpaid work by both men and women. Time spent by women on domestic activities has decreased nearly an hour a week from 1997, while men spent the same amount of time as in 1997.

Other findings include:

  • People aged 15 years and over, on average, spent 3 hours 30 minutes a week on education activities in 2006, 15% higher than in 1997.
  • For parents of children under 15 years of age, the time spent on child care as the main activity undertaken at any given time, averaged 2 hours 8 minutes a day in 2006 (3 hours 5 minutes for women).
  • When a parent of children aged 15 years and under was mainly involved with another activity, the time spent on child care as a secondary activity was 4 hours 13 minutes taking the total time spent on child care to 6 hours 21 minutes a day for parents (8 hours 31 minutes for women).

Further details are found in How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat. no. 4153.0).

Media note

Unpaid work includes domestic activities, child care, purchasing, voluntary work and care.

Back to top of the page