INCOME inequality may be increasing, but income is not the only measure of welfare. Those at the lower end of the income spectrum have growing amounts of time on their hands. In a forthcoming QJE paper Mark Aguiar and Erik Hurst find that, on average, the amount of time devoted to not working (this includes household work) has increased over the last forty years. How do Americans spend their new free time? Overwhelmingly, staring at the idiot box. Reading and socialising have dropped, despite the newfound leisure.
The interesting thing is that those on the lower end of the wage scale have seen a much larger increase in leisure time than the well off. There are a few explanations for that but my guess is that the rich are deathly afraid of not being rich any longer.