Journal Article
No. 2019-36 | July 16, 2019
Leisure time and labor productivity: a new economic view rooted from sociological perspective


Most economists measure labor productivity based on activities conducted at places of work and do not consider leisure time in their calculations. In contrast, psychologists and sociologists argue that leisure has a positive role in the production process: leisure can improve individuals’ labor productivity by affecting their self-development. Using empirical data from 21 OECD countries, this study finds that leisure time has a dual effect on labor productivity in terms of per capita per hour GDP. Moreover, leisure time is nonlinearly associated with labor productivity (inverted U-shaped). When leisure time reaches the optimal level (5,813 hours), leisure has a compensatory effect on work and can positively influence labor productivity, but when leisure time exceeds the optimal value, leisure has a substitution effect on work and can negatively influence labor productivity.

JEL Classification:

D24, D61


  • Downloads: 1716 (Discussion Paper: 1990)


Cite As

Dan Cui, Xiang Wei, Dianting Wu, Nana Cui, and Peter Nijkamp (2019). Leisure time and labor productivity: a new economic view rooted from sociological perspective. Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 13 (2019-36): 1–24.

Comments and Questions

Romar Correa - Reader Comment
July 29, 2019 - 08:43

The authors are to be complimented on their bold assay into the theme!
I faced the following issues:
In the first place, it seems to me that the scholars do not “extend the classic endogenous growth model”. “Education time”, u, is exogenous. As a tag to human capital it signifies ...[more]

... learning by doing (not sure how that characteristic was attributed to the capital input), on-the-job upgradation of skills to meet with new technological demands, and so on. Thus, I am not sure of the meaning of separating out the hours spent therein in a formula like 365.24 – u – l.
I could not grasp how leisure and the flow of capital services multiplicatively determined the “technical level” in equation (2). In equation (3), u and l are additively separable.
A footnote on the neoclassical model. Leisure time and work time are choice variables and disjoint, the former providing utility, the latter disutility. It would not be difficult for a non-neoclassical economist to set up a microeconomic model without the tradeoff but where the alternative to employment, in equilibrium, would be unemployment. A development of the theme would lead to sociological elements. As the paper stands, I believe ‘psychology’ would be a more appropriate word in the subtitle.

Dan Cui - leisure and productivity
August 05, 2019 - 10:13

The response to Reviewer Comments is in the a pdf file below.

Anonymous - Leisure time and labor productivity
August 09, 2019 - 16:16

The paper is very interesting and can be improved if it estimates the coefficients for explanatory variables in Step 1 to obtain a homogenous measures of the variables (the coefficients) that will not reach the goal of calculating the labour productivity that should be conducted in a Step2 by plugging ...[more]

... the coefficients mentioned above in the input terms in the equation. By doing so, the growth rate of total factor productivity (TFP) in this case is called (TFP per unit of labour), labour productivity and other productivity indicators to achieve the goal of new contribution the paper is looking for. Please refer to Elsadig Musa Ahmed (Ahmed EM, Elsadig MA) research in this area.
Secondly, the results generated by the paper most likely are not valid as the estimated the data is in the level and didn’t test the stationarity of the data through unit roots test and cointegration.

Dan Cui - leisure and productivity
August 31, 2019 - 12:38

The response to Reviewer Comments is in the a pdf file below.