Why some men don’t work: video games have got­ten good

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - QUOCTRUNG BUI

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.

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