A labour-force survey has discovered that enough young men are not working for it to show up in the data, and it could be due to video games.
US research has shown that men aged in their 20s had experienced a larger decline in work hours over the past 15 years than older men or women did, and the American Time Use Survey also found that between 2004 and 2007, men between 21 and 30 years old played two hours of video games per week, but that has now risen to 3.4 hours per week.
Prime Minister and Cabinet deputy secretary, David Gruen, has replicated the results of the study in Australia.
While the overall number of hours worked per person has declined since 2000, for men in their 20s it has fallen more than for anyone else, with an almost 5.1 per cent decline.
For their female counterparts, the number is closer to 3.5 per cent, while working hours for men and women in their 30s and 40s have only decline less than 2 per cent.
Gruen told the Melbourne Institute/The Australian Economic and Social Outlook Conference that modern technology – including video games – is changing the nature of both work and leisure and leading to some people substituting one for the other.
“While young men may be enjoying ‘higher-quality’ leisure by playing video games, the rest of us might worry about what this use of their time in early adulthood might mean for their prospects for fulfilling employment later in life,” Gruen said.
He also said that advances in technology were leading to declines in the number of both highly skilled and low-skilled routine jobs.
Of course, it’s a chicken or egg question: Are they spending more hours playing video games because of a lack of available work, or are they not working because they’re playing video games?