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Spending Time: The Most Valuable Resource Hardcover – March 1, 2019
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"Spending time with Dan Hamermesh's latest book is informative and entertaining at the same time." -- Alvin Roth, co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics and author of Who Gets What and Why
"Time is our greatest gift, our dearest resource. Dan Hamermesh provides a comprehensive and engaging account of how we spend our time, and why it matters. Your time spent reading this thoughtful book will be well worth it." -- Alan B. Krueger, Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, and former Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers
"How we spend our time has crucial implications for individual well-being, but also for the way our societies function. This book does an amazing job at providing a much-needed overview of this topic, as well as intriguing details and analysis. It will leave you smarter, inspired -- and motivated to spend your time wisely." -- Christoph M. Schmidt, President, RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research
"Daniel Hamermesh has been thinking for decades about time -- how we use it, the forces that shape our choices, and the implications of those choices for our lives and for society. Spending Time is a fascinating and accessible distillation, full of illuminating anecdotes, and sometimes surprising insights about topics as diverse as school schedules, overtime regulation, daylight saving time and climate change." -- Katharine G. Abraham, Professor of Economics and Survey Methodology, University of Maryland
"Time is scarce and this wonderful book brings the power of economic insights from a world renowned researcher to enhance our understanding of the way we use time. Fascinating, accessible, and, perceptive it examines the way different people, at different stages of their life and in different countries around the world spend their time. Spend some time to read this!" -- Professor Richard Blundell, Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London
"Daniel Hamermesh draws on over thirty years as a pioneering scholar on time use to produce a comprehensive and engaging examination of how we spend our time. Enlivened by down-to-earth examples and enriched by economic analysis, Spending Time sheds light on why we feel so stressed for time. It ponders policy options that might relieve our time stress and presents clear-eyed analyses of their likely effects. This illuminating book is well worth an expenditure of the reader's scarce and valuable time." -- Francine D. Blau, Frances Perkins Professor of Economics, Cornell University
About the Author
Daniel S. Hamermesh is Distinguished Scholar, Barnard College, Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin and Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2013 he received the Mincer Award for Lifetime Contributions to Labor Economics of the Society of Labor Economists and the IZA Prize in Labor of the Institute for the Study of Labor.
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I was pretty let down. It reads like very dry meta-review of the literature on time-use surveys. There were a few interesting insights here and there, but those were mostly mentioned in the EconTalk interview I listened to. The only signs of life were Hamermesh's "illustrations" of concepts with anecdotes about his and his wife's work and leisure, where he consistently (in my eyes) came across as boastful about what a great life they lead.
The books could use a lot more theoretical framework, as well as broader view that isn't purely economic. Hamermesh mentioned in the podcast interview that he avoids theories that are reliant on cultural differences. But instead, he mentions theories that are reliant on economic differences, with no nuance. And very often there are glaringly obvious alternative theories that are not economic, and not even mentioned by him in passing. In a book that claims at the beginning to be trying to take a broader view of what economics means, there is a very parochial perspective, solely Homo Economicus.
In the last chapter Hamermesh muses about the time-use findings, and gives some broad policy prescriptions for the US, such as mandatory four weeks paid vacation and extending the age of Social Security benefits. Once again, there is no attempt whatsoever to inform these musings and prescriptions with the 2500 years of thinking about what constitutes "the good life."