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Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men
Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils, Kerwin Kofi Charles, and Erik Hurst
NBER Working Paper No. 23552
June 2017
JEL No. D1,E24,J01,J2
Younger men, ages 21 to 30, exhibited a larger decline in work hours over the last fifteen years
than older men or women. Since 2004, time-use data show that younger men distinctly shifted
their leisure to video gaming and other recreational computer activities. We propose a framework
to answer whether improved leisure technology played a role in reducing younger men's labor
supply. The starting point is a leisure demand system that parallels that often estimated for
consumption expenditures. We show that total leisure demand is especially sensitive to
innovations in leisure luxuries, that is, activities that display a disproportionate response to
changes in total leisure time. We estimate that gaming/recreational computer use is distinctly a
leisure luxury for younger men. Moreover, we calculate that innovations to gaming/recreational
computing since 2004 explain on the order of half the increase in leisure for younger men, and
predict a decline in market hours of 1.5 to 3.0 percent, which is 38 and 79 percent of the
differential decline relative to older men.
Mark Aguiar
Department of Economics
Princeton University
Fisher Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
and NBER

Kerwin Kofi Charles
Harris School of Public Policy
University of Chicago
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
and NBER

Mark Bils
Department of Economics
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627
and NBER

Erik Hurst
Booth School of Business
University of Chicago
Harper Center
Chicago, IL 60637
and NBER