Why some men don’t work: video games have gotten good
If innovations in housework helped free women to enter the labour force in the 1960s and 1970s, could innovations in leisure — like “League of Legends” — be taking men out of the labour force today?
That’s the logic behind a new working paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The paper — by economists Erik Hurst, Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils and Kerwin Charles — argues that video games help explain why younger men are working fewer hours.
Hurst and his colleagues estimate that, since 2004, video games have been responsible for reducing the amount of work that young men do by 15 to 30 hours over the course of a year.
Using the recession as a natural experiment, the authors studied how people who suddenly found themselves with extra time spent their leisure hours, then estimated how increases in video game time affected work. Between 2004 and 2015, young men’s leisure time grew by 2.3 hours a week. A majority of that increase — 60 per cent — was spent playing video games, according to government time use surveys.
In some ways, the increase in video game time for men makes sense. The quality of video games has grown significantly. In the 1990s, games like “Mario Bros.” were little more than eight-bit virtual toys. Today, you can go on quests in games that can last for days.
In the 1990s, video games such as “Mario Kart” were primitive.