ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Why time poverty matters for individuals, organisations and nations

Authors:

Abstract

Over the last two decades, global wealth has risen. Yet material affluence has not translated into time affluence. Most people report feeling persistently ‘time poor’—like they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Time poverty is linked to lower well-being, physical health and productivity. Individuals, organisations and policymakers often overlook the pernicious effects of time poverty. Billions of dollars are spent each year to alleviate material poverty, while time poverty is often ignored or exacerbated. In this Perspective, we discuss the societal, organisational, institutional and psychological factors that explain why time poverty is often under appreciated. We argue that scientists, policymakers and organisational leaders should devote more attention and resources toward understanding and reducing time poverty to promote psychological and economic well-being.
1
Why time poverty matters for individuals, organisations, and nations
Laura M. Giurge1
Ashley V. Whillans2*
Colin West3
1Organisational Behaviour Department, London Business School, London, UK
2Negotiations, Organizations, and Markets Unit, Harvard Business School, Boston, MA, USA
3Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
*Corresponding author:
Ashley V. Whillans, Negotiations, Organizations & Markets Unit, Harvard Business School,
Boston, MA, 1-617-308-1539, awhillans@hbs.edu
2
ABSTRACT
Over the last two decades, global wealth has risen. Yet, material affluence has not
translated into time affluence. Most people report feeling persistently time poor’—like they
have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Time poverty is linked to lower
well-being, physical health, and productivity. Individuals, organisations, and policymakers often
overlook the pernicious effects of time poverty. Billions of dollars are spent each year to
alleviate material poverty, while time poverty is often ignored or exacerbated. In this
Perspective, we discuss the societal, organisational, institutional, and psychological factors that
explain why time poverty is often under appreciated. We argue that scientists, policymakers, and
organisational leaders should devote more attention and resources toward understanding and
reducing time poverty to promote psychological and economic well-being.
3
Human beings have always faced resource constraints driven by crises such as plagues,
famine, and drought. Consistent with our species’ struggle to obtain enough tangible assets to
survive, policy decisions have primarily focused on increasing material prosperity1. Historically,
this focus has been driven by the general belief that material wealth results in greater welfare2,3
a perspective that is exemplified by the fact that the Gross Domestic Product has been used as
the primary tool for measuring country-level welfare since its development in 19344.
More recently, however, this narrow focus on material resources has been
challenged5,6. In the 1970s, the economist Richard Easterlin discovered a paradox while
economic growth in the US had steadily increased over the previous decades citizens’
happiness had remained largely unaltered2. Debated by some scholars7,8, the Easterlin Paradox
was confirmed in recent years and across countries911. Following from these findings,
policymakers have come to recognise that non-monetary factors, such as societal trust and
optimism are also critical in shaping citizens’ well-being and societal progress1214. In this
Perspective, we argue that policymakers also need to consider the role of time affluence.
Although wealth has risen around the world, material prosperity has not translated into an
abundance of time; on the contrary, rising wealth often exacerbates feelings of time poverty15.
Defined as the chronic feeling of having too many things to do and not enough time to
do them16,17, time poverty is increasing in society. Data from the Gallup US Daily Poll a
nationally representative sample of US residents shows that, in 2011, 70% of employed
Americans reported that they “never had enough time,” and in 2018, this proportion increased to
80%18. Coinciding with these societal trends, researchers across academic fields have started to
systematically study this phenomenon. In social psychology, a growing body of literature finds
that people who are more time affluent experience greater psychological well-being1921.
Organisational behaviour research documents the role of workplace structures in shaping how
people think about and use their time22,23. Legal scholars are starting to consider the full welfare
costs of the time burdens imposed by social structures (i.e. unpaid labour burdens incurred by
women24) and government processes (i.e. paperwork and administrative burdens25). Political
4
theorists are urging scholars to study wasted time in political institutions, such as how wait-times
at voting booths or in court influence democratic processes26. Developmental economists are
advocating for the systematic study of time-use and associated stressors among the working
poor2729. The common thread across these diverse disciplines is that time poverty may be as
important as material poverty in shaping human welfare.
Today, time poverty and ‘busyness’ are often seen as signals of productivity, success,
and high status30,31. Yet, recent scientific evidence provides compelling evidence that feeling
time poor can adversely affect subjective well-being (e.g., life satisfaction, positive affect),
mental health, work performance, creativity, and relationship quality (see Table 1 for some of the
documented, negative consequences of time poverty). Building on this work, the aim of the
current paper is to analyse the causes of time poverty and discuss potential solutions.
First, we focus on the societal, institutional, organisational, and psychological factors
that contribute to time poverty at work and outside of it. In doing so, we provide an explanation
for why policymakers, companies, and individuals tend to overlook or exacerbate time poverty.
Second, we discuss the potential role of social scientists, policymakers, and
organisational leaders in reversing the upward trend in time poverty worldwide.
Societal Drivers of Time Poverty
There are two important changes in society that have contributed to increased time
poverty32. First, changes to social structures that shape time have accelerated the speed of life33.
Family structures are no longer stable: they are increasingly punctuated by divorce34. Careers are
no longer passed down from generation to generation: people now change jobs an average of 11
times35 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 [link]). Second, the Internet and mobile phones provide
people with access to an infinite number of experiences and the opportunity to “live a
multiplicity of lives within a single lifetime32,33. Thus, people increasingly worry about missing
out, which can increase feelings of time poverty32.
Along with the acceleration of time, the shifting nature of work and its relationship with
time contribute to time poverty36. Marx37 argued that labour should be evaluated by work hours
5
not outputs. Nyland38 noted that 21st century employees are required to do increasingly complex
tasks in less time. More modern theorising39 suggests that jobs are task (vs. time) oriented, such
that people are rewarded for the number of tasks they complete. Recent macro-economic changes
such as the emergence of global markets and ‘24-7 economies’40 have made task-oriented jobs
especially white-collar jobs like consultingincreasingly complex and competitive. In these
contexts, actual performance is difficult to evaluate41,42, yet small differences in productivity can
translate into large differences in pay. As a result, there is a proliferation of winner-take-all
models of promotions43 in which the ‘ideal worker’ can only signal their loyalty, devotion, and
productivity though long work hours37,40,41,44. Employees who deviate from the ‘ideal worker’
norm are marginalised45 or perceived as failed workers46. These increased work time
expectations contribute to the acceleration of time, and thereby to increased time poverty.
Organisational and Institutional Drivers of Time Poverty
Organisations, governments, and NGOs inadvertently, and sometimes intentionally,
cause their constituents to feel time poor. In private and public organisations, there are two core
structural sources of time poverty.
First, organisations create unnecessary idle time, defined as involuntary periods of
downtime when employees cannot perform their work tasks. According to a recent investigation
with over 1,000 employees across 29 occupations, including lawyers, managers, and soldiers,
more than 78% of employees reported that they were kept idle between meetings, assignments,
and other responsibilities47. These idle hours resulted in the equivalent of over $100 billion a
year in lost wages. Furthermore, when employees anticipated experiencing idle time, they also
slowed down their work pace. This is because people dread idleness48 and boredom49,50.
Relatedly, organisations are increasingly wasting employees’ time with menial administrative
tasks that are not central or necessary to primary roles at work51. In a nationally representative
survey of 4,720 US physicians, the average doctor spent 8.7 hours per week on administrative
tasks such as billing and record keeping, and these time burdens have increased by 20% in the
last ten years52. According to a detailed set of qualitative interviews53, even CEOs of well-
6
established organisations who have control over their schedules spent only 43% of time engaged
in activities “directly related to furthering their mission.” When engaged in secondary tasks,
employees are reminded of all the central tasks they could be doing, increasing their feelings of
goal conflict, and in turn, their feelings of time poverty54.
Second, organisations fragment employees’ time by imposing various meetings and
social obligations. Results from a detailed study with American office workers revealed that a
typical workday consists of 88 “episodes” (i.e. switching from one task to another) that last 10
minutes or less, on average55. Task switching and interruptions increase time poverty because
they undermine employees’ sense of control over time56. Employees’ coping tactics are often
counterproductive: they tend to speed up their work pace, shorten the time they spend on any one
activity, or engage in multitasking57. In turn, these strategies tend to further increase feelings of
time poverty and undermine productivity58,59. Fragmented time undermines performance because
of attentional residue that carries over from one task to another: employees need time to stop
thinking of one task before they can fully shift their attention to the next60.
Governments also contribute to time poverty in two primary ways. First, to receive
necessary permits, licenses, tax deductions, subsidies, educational assistance, and health benefits,
citizens must fill out forms, travel to government offices, and wait in lines. Recognising the
potential welfare costs, in 1980, the United States Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act
to constrain the accumulation of administrative paperwork requirements imposed on citizens and
businesses. This act was then amended in 1995, placing even greater emphasis on the need to
reduce paperwork inefficiencies. Despite such initiatives, paperwork burdens have worsened. In
2015, federal government paperwork demands cost US citizens 9.78 billion hours25 or the
equivalent of $215 billion a year in lost wages. In 2019, the US Office of Information and
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)the agency that oversees the implementation of governmental
regulationsestimated that paperwork burdens had grown to 11.6 billion hours (OIRA [link]).
Independent evaluations of government economic programs indicate that the burden of
administrative paperwork is disproportionately placed on the poor, harming the very people these
7
programs are intended to help61. For example, low- and middle-income citizens who are eligible
to obtain the Earned Income Tax Credit are required to fill out long, complex application forms
and to provide numerous documents, such as records of all of their expenses (e.g., rent and
groceries). Similarly, to receive Medicaid, families have to complete arduous eligibility
paperwork that can range from 24 to 31 pages in length. Many families do not have the time to
fulfil all these requirements and end up missing out on benefits for which they are eligible. Data
from the State Children’s Health Insurance Program shows that 24% of Medicaid re-enrolment
applications were denied due to incorrect paperwork62.
Second, citizens face increasingly long commute times63. Globally, employees spend
an average of 300 hours each year traveling between work and home. This represents roughly
10% of their total working time64 (The New York Times, 2011 [link]). Similar to paperwork
burdens, commute times are not equally distributed across the income spectrum. Census data
conducted by the District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis shows that the commute
time for low-income working adults is 120 minutes more per week than the commute time of
higher paid workers (District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis [link]). Governments
tend to exacerbate these differences because they fail to provide affordable housing options in
city centres, where most jobs are located (Pratt Center for community Development [link]).
Longer commute times reduce the amount of time available to search for better employment65,
complete non-work activities66, and are associated with lower levels of social capital67, physical
health68,69, and life satisfaction70. In one study with 3,409 Canadian citizens, more time spent
commuting was also associated with greater feelings of time poverty70.
The evidence outlined above illustrates the types of organisational and institutional
factors that increase feelings of time poverty. In the next section, we argue that there are also
psychological factors that impede people from recognising time as an important resource. These
factors could help to explain why time poverty is often neglected and exacerbated by
policymakers as well as organisational and non-profit leaders.
8
Psychological Drivers of Time Poverty
First, relative to money, people tend to undervalue their time71. Across six studies with
4,690 respondents, Whillans, Weidman, and Dunn72 found that only 48% of respondents
indicated a preference for having more time, rather than more money. This effect held even for
the most time poor individuals in the sample: working parents with young children living at
home. The tendency to undervalue time is also apparent when experts are making decisions on
behalf of others. In a pilot study, Whillans and West3 asked thirty current and aspiring
policymakers from the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy how they would allocate 2,100
Kenyan shilling to improve the welfare of working women living in Kibera, Africa. Only 6% of
respondents spontaneously reported that they would use the money to save women time. When
respondents explicitly chose between three policy programs (an unconditional cash transfer
program, an in-kind goods program, or a time-saving program), only four respondents (13%)
selected the time-saving program; 87% chose cash. Thus, time poverty might be neglected
because people tend to pay more attention to material resources than time-related resources.
Second, people are less sensitive to small losses of time relative to money. For
example, Festjens et al.73 found that people become more sensitive to losses of time compared to
money when the amounts are large (12 months vs. $18,000). Yet, when the amounts are small,
people become less sensitive to losses of time (60 minutes vs. $12). This research suggests that
people tend to pay attention to time costs only when these costs are large, which might explain
why time poverty can go unnoticed on a daily basispotentially accumulating across days.
These two psychological factors help to explain why societal, institutional, and
organisational factors systematically contribute to time poverty. Indeed, the tendency to
undervalue time could explain why the ‘ideal worker’ norm of long hours prevails and why
organisations often fail to address idle time or the increased fragmentation of individuals’ time.
Similarly, because people are relatively insensitive to small losses of time, policymakers and aid
organisations might fail to address the accumulation of small administrative burdens over time.
9
Institutional and organisational factors could reinforce these psychological factors, resulting in a
vicious circle (See Fig. 1).
Overall, a better understanding of why time poverty accumulates and how to alleviate
it could promote individual and societal well-being. Reducing time poverty could also promote
economic mobility, which has been consistently declining in the United States over the last 70
years74. We argue that reducing time poverty could enable individuals from all walks of life and
socio-economic backgrounds to devote more effort and attention to their health, work, their
families, and community. Time affluence could increase resilience to stressors and free mental
resources necessary to make more prudent financial decisions. Thus, alleviating time poverty
might be a viable path towards helping people lift themselves out of material poverty1,4.
In the next section, we discuss critical steps that social scientists should take to enrich our
understanding of time povertya topic that we believe deserves its own investigation.
Next Steps in Alleviating Time Poverty
At a conceptual level, time poverty as a psychological construct requires further
clarification. Scholars have used a myriad of definitions, some focus on the quantity of working
hours, others focus on the subjective aspects of time poverty, and some involve a combination of
the two (Table 1). Beyond these definitions, time poverty might have different effects depending
on whether people feel like they do not have enough time to complete activities that they want to
do (e.g., social gatherings) or activities they have to do (e.g., work projects)75. A clearer
conceptualisation of the experience of time poverty across different tasks and domains (e.g.,
home vs. work76) could inform the design of interventions aimed at reducing time poverty as a
general feeling and within specific domains of one’s life.
The experience of time poverty will likely differ across socio-economic and
demographic groups1,77. Low-income workers’ experience of time poverty is often driven by
working multiple jobs with unpredictable work schedules that make it difficult to manage family
responsibilities78. High-income workers have greater control over when and where they work
and feel time poor because they need to conform to the ‘ideal worker’ norm of overtime79. Yet,
10
high-income workers can pay for childcare or take vacation80. Thus, time poverty might be more
detrimental for low-income workers who are unable to pay their way out of such constraints.
Women (vs. men) are also more likely to experience time poverty because they tend to invest the
same or more time completing unpaid domestic labour today as in prior decades81. This prevents
women from working long hours and being seen as an ‘ideal worker.’ When women try to work
similar hours as men, they experience worse mental health82 because they have less or lower
quality leisure83. Overall, time inequality in unpaid worklike childcareis a core indicator of
gender inequality and further contributes to greater feelings of time poverty and lower well-being
among working women (vs. men)36,8486. Future research should identify critical factors
underlying the unequal distribution of time poverty across social and demographic groups.
A related and equally important phenomenon to understand is ‘forced idleness’
experienced by certain social groups such as the sick, unemployed, underemployed, or elderly87
90. While our Perspective has primarily focused on individuals who experience time constraints,
research finds a quadratic relationship between work hours and subjective well-being such that
working too much and too little is detrimental91,92. Future research should therefore seek to better
understand when time constraints and time affluence negatively impact well-being.
At the methodological level, there is a need to develop more reliable and accurate
measures of time poverty1. Progress has been made to study objective time-use. The Day
Reconstruction Method (DRM) is one of the best methods to assess how people spend their time.
The DRM asks people to systematically reconstruct their activities and experiences over the past
24 hours by recalling sequential episodes (see SI, Supplementary Note 1)which is thought to
avoid recall bias93. Other researchers94 have developed time-use surveys that provide a
comprehensive quantitative overview of how men and women spend time over specific periods
such as by capturing forms of work that are often excluded from traditional surveys (i.e. unpaid
work or work typically undertaken by women like cooking while caregiving95). Although time-
use surveys provide understanding of people’s quality of life and their experiences of time
11
poverty (see SI, Supplementary Note 2), they are far from being fully institutionalized,
particularly in developing nations, and often do not include subjective measures.
Relatedly, scholars (Belal S., On R., West C., Whillans A.V., unpublished) have
started to develop incentive compatible measures of the value of time that rely on behavioural
responses versus self-report measures. These measures involve sending text messages that
prompt participants with a randomised time commitment and payment amount, asking
participants whether they accept or decline the task. The wage people are willing to accept
signals the underlying value of time. Future research should combine the use of DRM, time-use
surveys, and incentive compatible measures to more accurately capture time-value and validate
the existing research that has traditionally relied on self-reported measures of the value of time.
As others have argued, the acceleration of life should be measured using objective and
subjective measures32. In practice, measures typically focus either on objective or subjective time
(see Williams et al.1 for a discussion on the need to create multidimensional poverty measures).
Building on this research, we propose that future research should move beyond self-reported data
to capture the dynamics underlying the multiple dimensions of time poverty including not only
what people do but what they are unable to complete. To more fully understand the impact of
time poverty, scholars should develop measures that capture actual and ideal time-use, the trade-
offs or conflicts that arise, as well as the intensification and compression of time. Having the
proper measures to quantify time poverty are essential for creating actionable steps to tackle it.
At the empirical level, social scientists should focus on collecting time poverty in more
representative samples. Similar to most behavioural science research, the majority of research on
this topic has been conducted with W.E.I.R.D samples (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich,
and Democratic). Future research on time poverty would greatly benefit from surveying people
within diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts. In particular, existing data on time poverty
are especially scarce in developing countries and in low socio-economic status communities in
developed countries29. These populations are of particular interest because they tend to be both
time poor and materially poor2729. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, women spend an average
12
of 4.2 hours per day on unpaid work, like cleaning and cooking, and in India, women spend up to
6 hours per day. As a result, poor women have less time available to participate in paid labour
and invest in the development and well-being of themselves and their children. Time poverty
further prevents girls from attending school. In Bangladesh, girls from poor families living in
rural areas spend up to 10 hours per day collecting enough water for their homes and their
family’s crops. There are also health-related consequences, such that objective lack of time is
associated with constraints on cognitive resources96. These data illustrate the tremendous value
of addressing time poverty among non-WEIRD individuals who are also materially poor.
Along with gathering data across nations, we argue that it is also important to collect
data within nations from populations that are exposed to extreme time-based experiences. For
example, scholars could focus on capturing time poverty among people in the top 1% of income
earners, those whose occupations require working extremely long hours (e.g., physicians, CEOs,
and truck drivers), as well as irregular or unpredictable hours (e.g., retail workers in developed
countries or casual laborers in developing countries), and those who work few or no hours (e.g.,
retirees and the unemployed). These investigations would further our understanding of how
objective factors—like the structure of one’s work—shape subjective time poverty97.
Overall, the literature on time poverty as a psychological phenomenon is in its infancy.
Nevertheless, we argue that policymakers and organisational leaders can already begin to tackle
time poverty. For example, a straightforward step towards alleviating time poverty is to ensure
that time burdens are adequately quantified. In developed countries such as the United States,
there are institutions that already collect information on the time burdens associated with
administrative programs and regulations (i.e. OIRA98). However, most state and municipal
governments have not enacted similar initiatives. Thus, a significant portion, perhaps the
majority of the total administrative burdens imposed on citizens is unaccounted for. At the
country-level, policymakers could consider developing a time poverty GINI index. This index
would capture the statistical dispersion of feelings of time poverty at the national and local level,
serving as a unique indicator of inequality along with the Gini coefficient.
13
Existing research and policy efforts have primarily focused on the consequences of
tangible forms of poverty (i.e. material) rather than time poverty. As we have argued, time
poverty is a threat to well-being and economic development that often goes unnoticed among HR
leaders, policymakers, and citizens. This pervasive and problematic phenomenon deserves the
attention of society and scientiststo the same extent as material poverty.
14
References
1. Williams, J.R., Masuda, Y.J. & Tallis, H.A measure whose time has come: Formalizing time
poverty. Soc. Indic. Res. 128, 265283 (2016).
2. Easterlin, R. Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. in
Nations and Households in Economic Growth: Essays in Honour of Moses Abramovitz (ed.
David, P.A. and Reder, M.W.) (New York: Academic Press, 1974).
3. Whillans, A.V. & West, C. Alleviating time poverty among the working poor: A pre-
registered longitudinal field experiment. Nat. Hum. Behav. (2019).
4. Barrington-Leigh, C. & Galbraith, E. Feasible future global scenarios for human life
evaluations. Nat. Commun. 10, 161 (2019).
5. Costanza, R., Hart, M., Talberth, J. & Posner, S. Beyond GDP: The need for new measures
of progress. Pardee Pap. (2009).
6. Diener, E., Oishi, S. & Lucas, R.E. National accounts of subjective well-being. Am. Psychol.
70, 234 (2015).
7. Veenhoven, R. & Vergunst, F. The Easterlin illusion: Economic growth does go with greater
happiness. Int. J. Happiness Dev. 1, 311343 (2014).
8. Diener, E., Tay, L. & Oishi, S. Rising income and the subjective wellbeing of nations”. J.
Pers. Soc. Psychol. 104, 267276 (2013).
9. Easterlin, R. Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all? J. Econ. Behav.
Organ. 27, 3547 (1995).
10. Easterlin, R., McVey, L., Switek, M., Sawangfa, O. & Zweig, J. The happiness paradox
revisited. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107, 2246322468 (2010).
11. Easterlin, R. & Angelescu, L. Modern economic growth and quality of life: Cross sectional
and time series evidence. in Handbook of social indicators and quality-of-life research (eds.
K. Land, A., Michalos; & Sirgy, J.) 113136 (London: Springer, 2012).
12. Stiglitz, J.E., Sen, A. & Fitoussi, J.-P. Report by the Commission on the measurement of
economic performance and social progress. Sustain. Dev. 12, 292 (2009).
13. Karademas, E.C. Self-efficacy, social support and well-being. Pers. Individ. Dif. 40, 1281
1290 (2006).
14. Helliwell, J.F. Well‐being, social capital and public policy: What’s new? Econ. J. 116, C34
C45 (2006).
15. Hamermesh, D.S. & Lee, J. Stressed out on four continents: Time crunch or yuppie kvetch?
Rev. Econ. Stat. 89, 374383 (2007).
16. Goodin, R.E., Rice, J.M., Bittman, M. & Saunders, P. The time-pressure illusion:
Discretionary time vs. free time. Soc. Indic. Res. 73, 4370 (2005).
17. Perlow, L.A. The time famine: Toward a sociology of work time. Adm. Sci. Q. 44, 5781
(1999).
18. Whillans, A.V. Time for happiness: Why the pursuit of money isn’t bringing you joy – and
what will. Harvard Business Review (2019).
19. Goh, J., Pfeffer, J. & Zenios, S.A. The relationship between workplace stressors and
mortality and health costs in the United States. Manage. Sci. 62, 608628 (2016).
20. Rudd, M. Feeling short on time: Trends, consequences, and possible remedies. Curr. Opin.
Psychol. 26, 510 (2018).
21. Whillans, A.V., Dunn, E.W., Smeets, P., Bekkers, R. & Norton, M.I. Buying time promotes
happiness. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 114, 85238527 (2017).
22. DeVoe, S.E. & Pfeffer, J. When time is money: The effect of hourly payment on the
evaluation of time. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 104, 113 (2007).
23. Pfeffer, J. & DeVoe, S.E. The economic evaluation of time: Organizational causes and
individual consequences. Res. Organ. Behav. 32, 4762 (2012).
24. Emens, E. Life Admin: How I learned to do less, do better, and live more. Hought. Mifflin
(2019).
25. Sunstein, C.R. Sludge and ordeals. Duke Law J. 126, 21 (2018).
15
26. Cohen, E.F. The political value of time: Citizenship, duration, and democratic justice.
(Cambridge University Press, 2018).
27. Hirway, I. Mainstreaming unpaid work: Time-use data in developing policies. (Oxford
University Press, 2017).
28. Haushofer, J. & Shapiro, J. The short-term impact of unconditional cash transfers to the
poor: Experimental evidence from Kenya. Q. J. Econ. 131, 19732042 (2016).
29. Shafir, E. & Mullainathan, S. Scarcity: Why having too little means so much. (New York,
NY, US: Times Books/Henry Holt and Co, 2013).
30. Gershuny, J. Busyness as the badge of honor for the new superordinate working class. Soc.
Res. (New York). 72, 287314 (2005).
31. Keinan, A., Bellezza, S. & Paharia, N. The symbolic value of time. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 26,
5861 (2019).
32. Rosa, H. Social acceleration: ethical and political consequences of a desynchronized high
speed society. Constellations 10, 333 (2003).
33. Rosa, H. Social acceleration: A new theory of modernity. Columbia Univ. Press (2013).
34. Raley, R.K. & Sweeney, M.M. Divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies: A decade in review.
J. Marriage Fam. 82, 8199 (2020).
35. Bidwell, M., Briscoe, F., Fernandez-Mateo, I. & Sterling, A. The employment relationship
and inequality: How and why changes in employment practices are reshaping rewards in
organizations. Acad. Manag. Ann. 7, 61121 (2013).
36. Williams, J. Market work and family work in the 21st Century. Villanova Law Rev. 44, 305
(1999).
37. Marx, K. Capital, volume one: A critique of political economy. (Mineola, NY: Dover
Publications, 1867).
38. Nyland, C. Reduced worktime and the management of production. (Cambridge University
Press, 1989).
39. Thompson, E.P. Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism. Past Present 38, 5697
(1967).
40. Presser, H.B. Working in a 24/7 economy: Challenges for American families. (Russell Sage
Foundation, 2005).
41. Cha, Y. & Weeden, K.A. Overwork and the slow convergence in the gender gap in wages.
Am. Sociol. Rev. 79, 457484 (2014).
42. Blair-Loy, M. & Jacobs, J.A. Globalization, work hours, and the care deficit among
stockbrokers. Gend. Soc. 17, 230249 (2003).
43. Connelly, B.L., Tihanyi, L., Crook, T.R. & Gangloff, K.A. Tournament theory: Thirty years
of contests and competitions. J. Manage. 40, 1647 (2014).
44. Sharone, O. Engineering overwork: Bell-curve management at a high-tech firm. Fight. Time
Shifting Boundaries Work Soc. Life 191218 (2004).
45. Kuhn, P. & Lozano, F. The expanding workweek? Understanding trends in long work hours
among US men 19792006. J. Labor Econ. 26, 311343 (2008).
46. Williams, J.C., Blair‐Loy, M. & Berdahl, J.L. Cultural schemas, social class, and the
flexibility stigma. J. Soc. Issues 69, 209234 (2013).
47. Brodsky, A. & Amabile, T.M. The downside of downtime: The prevalence and work pacing
consequences of idle time at work. J. Appl. Psychol. (2018).
48. Hsee, C.K., Yang, A.X. & Wang, L. Idleness aversion and the need for justifiable busyness.
Psychol. Sci. 21, 926930 (2010).
49. Eastwood, A.E., Fahlman, S.A., Eastwood, J.D., Gaskovski, P. & Mercer, K.B. Does a lack
of life meaning cause boredom? Results from psychometric, longitudinal, and experimental
analyses. J. Soc. Clin. Psychol. 28, 307340 (2009).
50. Csikszentmihalyi, M. The costs and benefits of consuming. J. Consum. Res. 27, 267272
(2000).
51. Graeber, D. Bullshit jobs. (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
52. Woolhandler, S., Campbell, T. & Himmelstein, D.U. Costs of health care administration in
the United States and Canada. N. Engl. J. Med. 349, 768775 (2003).
16
53. Porter, M.E. & Nohria, N. The leader’s calendar: How CEOs manage time. Harv. Bus. Rev.
(2018).
54. Etkin, J., Evangelidis, I. & Aaker, J. Pressed for time? Goal conflict shapes how time Is
perceived, spent, and valued. J. Mark. Res. 52, 394406 (2015).
55. Wajcman, J. & Rose, E. Constant connectivity: Rethinking interruptions at work. Organ.
Stud. 32, 941961 (2011).
56. Peters, P. & Raaijmakers, S. Time crunch and the perception of control over time from a
gendered perspective: The Dutch case. Soc. Leis. 21, 417433 (1998).
57. Sullivan, O. Busyness, status distinction and consumption strategies of the income-rich,
time-poor. Time Soc. 17, 7192 (2008).
58. Etkin, J. & Mogilner, C. Does variety among activities increase happiness? J. Consum. Res.
43, 210229 (2016).
59. Malkoc, S.A. & Tonietto, G.N. Activity versus outcome maximization in time management.
Curr. Opin. Psychol. 26, 4953 (2018).
60. Leroy, S. Why is it so hard to do my work? The challenge of attention residue when
switching between work tasks. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 109, 168181 (2009).
61. Schanzenbach, D. Experimental estimates of the barriers to Food Stamp enrollment. Inst.
Res. Poverty, Univ. Wisconsin-Madison (2009).
62. Hill, I. & Lutzky, A.W. Is there a hole in the bucket? Understanding SCHIP retention.
(2003).
63. Kneebone, E. & Holmes, N. The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan
America. (2015).
64. OECD. Average annual hours actually worked per worker. (2014).
65. Garrett, M. & Taylor, B. Reconsidering social equity in public transit. Berkeley Plan. J. 13,
627 (1999).
66. Kutateladze, B.L. & Lawson, V.Z. A new look at inequality: Introducing and testing a cross-
sectional equality measurement framework in New York City. Soc. Indic. Res. 132, 993
1022 (2017).
67. Besser, L. M., Marcus, M. & Frumkin, H. Commute time and social capital in the US. Am. J.
Prev. Med. 34, 207211 (2008).
68. Gordon-Larsen, et al. Active commuting and cardiovascular disease risk: the CARDIA
study. Arch. Intern. Med. 169, 12161223 (2009).
69. Dinu, M., Pagliai, G., Macchi, C. & Sofi, F. Active commuting and multiple health
outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sport. Med. 49, 437452 (2019).
70. Hilbrecht, M., Smale, B. & Mock, S.E. Highway to health? Commute time and well-being
among Canadian adults. World Leis. J. 56, 151163 (2014).
71. Woolley, K. & Fishbach, A. The experience matters more than you think: People value
intrinsic incentives more inside than outside an activity. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 109, 968982
(2015).
72. Whillans, A.V., Weidman, A.C. & Dunn, E. W. Valuing time over money is associated with
greater social connection. Soc. Psychol. Personal. Sci. 7, 213222 (2018).
73. Festjens, A., Bruyneel, S., Diecidue, E. & Dewitte, S. Time-based versus money-based
decision making under risk: An experimental investigation. J. Econ. Psychol. 50, 5272
(2015).
74. Chetty, R. et al. The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since
1940. Science (80). 356, 398406 (2017).
75. Dolan, P. & White, M.P. Accounting for the richness of daily activities. Psychol. Sci. 20,
10008 (2009).
76. Kleiner, S. Subjective time pressure: General or domain specific? Soc. Sci. Res. 47, 108120
(2014).
77. Williams, J. Reshaping the work-family debate: Why men and class matter. (Harvard
University Press, 2010).
78. Lambert, S.J. Passing the buck: Labor flexibility practices that transfer risk onto hourly
workers. Hum. relations 61, 12031227 (2008).
17
79. Kossek, E.E., Lautsch, B.A. & Eaton, S.C. Telecommuting, control, and boundary
management: Correlates of policy use and practice, job control, and workfamily
effectiveness. J. Vocat. Behav. 68, 347367 (2006).
80. Lambert, S.J. Making a difference for hourly employees. Work. Policies 169195 (2009).
81. Bianchi, S.M., Sayer, L.C., Milkie, M.A. & Robinson, J.P. Housework: Who did, does or
will do it, and how much does it matter? Soc. forces 91, 5563 (2012).
82. Dinh, H., Strazdins, L. & Welsh, J. Hour-glass ceilings: Work-hour thresholds, gendered
health inequities. Soc. Sci. Med. 176, 4251 (2017).
83. Chatzitheochari, S. & Arber, S. Class, gender and time poverty: A time‐use analysis of
British workers’ free time resources. Br. J. Sociol. 63, 451471 (2012).
84. Jacobs, J.A. & Gerson, K. The time divide. (Harvard University Press, 2004).
85. Dobbins, G.H., Lane, I.M. & Steiner, D.D. A note on the role of laboratory methodologies in
applied behavioural research: Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. J. Organ.
Behav. 9, 281286 (1988).
86. Gender equality index 2015: Measuring gender equality in the European Union 2005-2012.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2015).
87. Piatak, J.S. Time is on my side: A framework to examine when unemployed individuals
volunteer. Nonprofit Volunt. Sect. Q. 45, 11691190 (2016).
88. Hetschko, C., Knabe, A. & Schöb, R. Changing identity: Retiring from unemployment.
Econ. J. 124, 149166 (2014).
89. Helliwell, J.F. & Huang, H. New measures of the costs of unemployment: Evidence from
the subjective well‐being of 3.3 million Americans. Econ. Inq. 52, 14851502 (2014).
90. Brand, J.E. The far-reaching impact of job loss and unemployment. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 41,
(2015).
91. Sharif, M., Mogilner, C. & Hershfield, H. The effects of being time poor and time rich on
life satisfaction. SSRN Electron. J. (2018).
92. Kleiner, S., Schunck, R. & Schömann, K. Different contexts, different effects? Work time
and mental health in the United States and Germany. J. Health Soc. Behav. 56, 98113
(2015).
93. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A.B., Schkade, D., Schwarz, N. & Stone, A.A. A survey method
for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science (80). 306,
17761780 (2014).
94. Hirway, I. Understanding poverty: Insights emerging from time use of the poor. in Unpaid
work and the economy 2257 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
95. Hirway, I. & Charmes, J. Estimating and understanding informal employment through time
use studies. (2008).
96. Shah, A.K., Mullainathan, S. & Shafir, E. Some consequences of having too little. Science
(80). 338, 682685 (2012).
97. Bandiera, O., Prat, A., Hansen, S. & Sadun, R. Ceo behavior and firm performance. J. Polit.
Econ. 128, 13251369 (2020).
98. Sunstein, C.R. Simpler: The future of government. (Simon and Schuster, 2013).
18
Figures
Fig. 1 | The reinforcing nature of the drivers of time poverty
Acknowledgments
We thank Lucia Macchia for her comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
Author contributions
L.M.G. and A.V.W. contributed equally to the work. L.M.G., A.V.W., and C.W. conceptualized
the paper and wrote the initial version of the manuscript. L.M.G. and A.V.W. made revisions and
finalized the manuscript.
Competing Interests
The authors declare no competing interests.
... When conceptualizing time as a finite resource (e.g., Giurge et al., 2020), time poverty has traditionally been defined as having insufficient time to maintain physical and mental well-being (Vickery, 1977). Translating this to the higher education context, Wladis et al. (2018) define time poverty as insufficient time to devote to college work (i.e., lack of available time to maintain academic well-being). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study explored the relationships between voluntary online course enrollment (pre-pandemic), time poverty, and college outcomes. Results indicate that students who enrolled in at least one fully online course were significantly more time poor than other students; these differences were largely explained by age, parental status, and paid work. Yet, despite being more time poor, students who enrolled in online courses were more likely to successfully complete their courses, especially after controlling for time poverty. While students who took at least one online course were less likely to be retained in college and accumulated on average fewer credits, outcomes in online courses did not explain these differences; rather, other factors that make students both more likely to enroll online and to drop out or take fewer credits likely play a role. In particular, time poverty fully mediated the relationship between online enrollment and credit accumulation.
... Much of the scholarly and policy discourse on poverty and inequality has traditionally Reducing time poverty, in turn, matters not only for individual well-being but also has important ramifications for increasing investment in human capital, improving psychological and economic health, and promoting overall development. 66 The strategies for achieving this goal must include changes that raise the value of unpaid work and practices that redistribute the burden of care and housework. Crucial are the implementation of public works programs that build and improve time-saving infrastructure (especially electrification and the provision of piped water); and improvements in care infrastructure (especially the provision of on-site childcare facilities) that allow time poor individuals to engage in work in a meaningful manner. ...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals with heavy paid and unpaid work burdens may experience time deprivations that restrict their well-being and put them at risk of becoming or remaining income poor. Because unpaid work outside of the market is not captured in most large survey-based datasets, time poverty is rarely recognized in policy and practice. Yet income poverty and time poverty are mutually reinforcing, and they can sap energy and impede effective decision-making, thus perpetuating the state of poverty. This paper offers a five-step approach to conceptualizing and measuring time poverty, and it compares time poverty rates by gender across a range of developing countries. Results show that women have higher time poverty rates than men in most cases, with the main exception being countries with low female labor force participation. Policies that strengthen physical and social infrastructure, thereby decreasing the time needed for unpaid household work, have demonstrable effects on reducing time poverty.
... This too necessitates that lower-SES individuals forgo their discretionary time to contend with pockets of neighborhood disorganization (Bo, 2022;Shihadeh & Barranco, 2010). They encounter their immediate environment through the social time of the neighborhood: waiting for buses, commuting long distances, and traveling between multiple part-time jobs (Cutler et al., 2008;Edin et al., 2003;Giurge et al., 2020;Sorokin & Richard, 2017). In other words, the social time of a particular environment may take precedence over individual discretionary time (Thompson, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study shows that time availability is a significant mediator between SES and health. I draw on representative survey data from the Canadian Multinational Time Use Survey and supplement this data source with a second data set containing localized sociodemographic and time availability measures. In addition to testing existing time scarcity measures, I also propose a broader set of new, more inclusive measures. Analyses involve two stages. First, binary logistic regressions evaluate statistically significant relationships. The second stage uses mediation analyses to assess whether time availability is statistically significant in mediating the relationship between SES and self-reported health. I compute direct, indirect, and total effects, independently for each of the objective and subjective time availability measures, for both the nationally representative sample and for the localized sample. My results show that both time scarcity and time excess are important when examining the mechanisms linking SES and health. For example, 12 percent of the effect of household-level SES on health is via discretionary time availability. Further, over 10 percent of the effect of neighborhood-level SES on health is via subjective time scarcity. Objective time poverty mediates about 9 percent. 7.3 percent of the effect of SES on health is via objective time excess. Considering the differing temporal needs of marginalized populations, this work has important health policy implications for sociotemporal disparities in health.
... 128 Such groups are unable to pay their way out of such constraints, and to provide for their families they often have to work in multiple jobs with long commutes because they live on the periphery of urban areas and have poor transport options. 129 Time poverty is also strongly gendered. Women are typically responsible for domestic tasks and spend about twice as much time as men on unpaid work -some 4.5 hours each day. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Early childhood is a critical period during which patterns of movement behaviors are formed. The World Health Organization had endorsed guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep over a 24-h time period, which had been adopted by the Center for Health Protection of Hong Kong. This paper reports on stakeholder engagements that were conducted to inform the design of strategies to disseminate the guidelines in early childhood education (ECE) settings. Methods Using a mixed-methods study design, we sought to (a) assess the stakeholders' levels of awareness and knowledge of the Hong Kong movement guidelines for young children and (b) identify the factors that influence the uptake of the said guidelines. We conducted an online survey of early childhood education teachers ( N =314), twelve focus groups involving teachers ( N = 18) and parents ( N = 18), and individual interviews of key informants ( N = 7) and domestic workers who provide care for preschool-aged children ( N = 7). Descriptive statistics were used for the quantitative data, and thematic analysis was performed on the qualitative data using an inductive and semantic approach following a realist framework. Findings Our findings show that teachers were aware of the movement guidelines for young children, but their knowledge of the specific guidelines was deficient; parents and domestic workers had limited awareness and knowledge of the guidelines. Uptake of the movement guidelines is enabled by parent engagement, activities in the ECE centers, home-school cooperation, and community activities for children. The challenges include the time poverty of parents, local curriculum requirements, limited physical spaces, social values, and pandemic-related restrictions. Conclusion We recommend that dissemination strategies in the ECE context should deliver knowledge content and support stakeholders in mitigating the challenges associated with time, space, and social conditions.
Article
Modern societies provide an abundance of opportunities, which could lead to acceleration and time poverty, thereby paradoxically limiting well‐being. This study examines this issue using social distancing measures introduced during the COVID‐19 pandemic. We analyzed a data set of over four million responses, collected by the German online newspaper “ZEIT ONLINE,” where people responded to the question “How are you today?” with “good” or “bad,” assessing subjective well‐being, and an optional self‐descriptive adjective of mood. The results showed that subjective well‐being significantly increased with the onset of social distancing regulations. This increase was closely accompanied by a rise in adjectives associated with deceleration, the daily usage of which best predicted daily well‐being during COVID‐19. Factor analysis showed that Factor 1 best predicted daily well‐being and was effectively described by adjectives associated with deceleration. An analysis of potential mechanisms of deceleration during the pandemic revealed lower stress levels during workdays and weekends, as well as better sleep. These findings provide large‐scale support to theories suggesting that acceleration and time poverty in modern societies may impair well‐being.
Article
Motivated by evidence that the largest gender differences in career outcomes arise within occupations, we examine a single occupation. With the support of the American Finance Association (AFA), we surveyed AFA members on the professional culture within finance. Individual experiences vary substantially, especially across men and women. Contrary to conventional narratives, differences in preferences play little role in explaining why women experience worse outcomes. Bias and discrimination have the largest effect. The consequences of noninclusiveness extend beyond the personal to the entire field. Our findings suggest that institutions potentially could do more than they recognize to improve both diversity and science. (JEL I23, J16, J24, J44, J71)
Article
To uncover pathways for understanding and alleviating poverty, this paper offers an alternative approach for examining the real and unseen processes of destitution and in‐work poverty which shape the lives of consumers. We apply a critical realist paradigm structured around three core tenets — stratified realities, complex causations and generative structures — to surface the nuanced complexities of these issues. A critical realist lens encourages impact by focusing on the deep causes of enduring social problems and provides Transformative Consumer Research (TCR) scholars with an integrative way to work towards transformative policy action. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Time use studies quantify what people do, over particular time intervals. The results of these studies have illuminated diverse and important aspects of societies and economies, from populations around the world. Yet, these efforts have advanced in a fragmented manner, using non-standardized descriptions (lexicons) of time use that often require researchers to make arbitrary designations among non-exclusive categories, and are not easily translated between disciplines. Here we propose a new approach, assembling multiple dimensions of time use to construct what we call the human chronome, as a means to provide novel interdisciplinary perspectives on fundamental aspects of human behaviour and experience. The approach is enabled by parallel lexicons, each of which aims for low ambiguity by focusing on a single coherent categorical dimension, and which can then be combined to provide a multi-dimensional characterization. Each lexicon should follow a single, consistent theoretical orientation, ensure exhaustiveness and exclusivity, and minimize ambiguity arising from temporal and social aggregation. As a pragmatic first step towards this goal, we describe the development of the Motivating- Outcome- Oriented General Activity Lexicon (MOOGAL). The MOOGAL is theoretically oriented towards the outcomes of activities, is applicable to any human from hunter-gatherers to modern urbanites, and deliberately focuses on the physical outcomes which motivate the undertaking of activities to reduce ambiguity from social aggregation. We illustrate the utility of the MOOGAL by comparing it with existing economic, sociological and anthropological lexicons, showing that it exhaustively covers the previously-defined activities with low ambiguity, and apply it to time use and economic data from two countries. Our results support the feasibility of using generalized lexicons to incorporate diverse observational constraints on time use, thereby providing a rich interdisciplinary perspective on the human system that is particularly relevant to the current period of rapid social, technological and environmental change.
Article
Full-text available
Poverty entails more than a scarcity of material resources—it also involves a shortage of time. To examine the causal benefits of reducing time poverty, we conducted a longitudinal field experiment over six consecutive weeks in an urban slum in Kenya with a sample of working mothers, a population who is especially likely to experience severe time poverty. Participants received vouchers for services designed to reduce their burden of unpaid labor. We compared the effect of these vouchers against equivalently valued unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) and a neutral control condition. In contrast to our pre-registered hypotheses, a pre-registered Bayesian ANCOVA indicated that the time-saving, UCT, and control conditions led to similar increases in subjective well-being, reductions in perceived stress, and decreases in relationship conflict (Cohen’s d’s ranged from 0.25 to 0.85 during the treatment weeks and from 0.21 to 0.36 at the endline). Exploratory analyses revealed that the time-saving vouchers and UCTs produced these benefits through distinct psychological pathways. We conclude by discussing the implications of these results for economic development initiatives. Protocol registration The Stage 1 protocol for this Registered Report was accepted in principle on 27/06/2019. The protocol, as accepted by Nature Human Behaviour, can be found at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4368455.
Article
Full-text available
We develop a new method to measure CEO behavior in large samples via a survey that collects high-frequency, high-dimensional diary data and a machine learning algorithm that estimates behavioral types. Applying this method to 1,114 CEOs in six countries reveals two types: “leaders,” who do multifunction, high-level meetings, and “managers,” who do individual meetings with core functions. Firms that hire leaders perform better, and it takes three years for a new CEO to make a difference. Structural estimates indicate that productivity differentials are due to mismatches rather than to leaders being better for all firms.
Article
Full-text available
Subjective well-being surveys show large and consistent variation among countries, much of which can be predicted from a small number of social and economic proxy variables. But the degree to which these life evaluations might feasibly change over coming decades, at the global scale, has not previously been estimated. Here, we use observed historical trends in the proxy variables to constrain feasible future projections of self-reported life evaluations to the year 2050. We find that projected effects of macroeconomic variables tend to lead to modest improvements of global average life evaluations. In contrast, scenarios based on non-material variables project future global average life evaluations covering a much wider range, lying anywhere from the top 15% to the bottom 25% of present-day countries. These results highlight the critical role of non-material factors such as social supports, freedoms, and fairness in determining the future of human well-being.
Book
This book examines the tendency in market economies to reduce the time workers spend at their place of employment and considers the role scientific management has played in this development. The author contends that the changing nature of worktime can be explained by changes in both the capitalistic production process and the demands that this process places on the psycho-physiological capacities of human beings. Between 1870 and 1980, the total annual worktime in major industrialized nations decreased by approximately 40 percent. This accelerated rate of worktime change is discussed in the context of the economic revival of capitalism that began in the first half of the twentieth century and culminated in the 'long boom' of 1945–1970. Professor Nyland argues that this revival is primarily explained by the rapid development and application of the process associated with scientific management. He further asserts that this science has been seriously misunderstood by most modern scholars outside socialist nations.
Article
This article reviews key developments in the past decade of research on divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies. Divorce rates are declining overall, but they remain high and have risen among people older than age 50. Remarriage rates have declined, but the overall proportion of marriages that are remarriages is rising. Transitions in parents' relationships continue to be associated with reduced child well‐being, but shifting patterns of divorce and repartnering during the past decade have also reshaped the family lives of older adults. We review research on the predictors and consequences of these trends and consider what they reveal about the changing significance of marriage as an institution. Overall, recent research on divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies points to the persistence of marriage as a stratified and stratifying institution and indicates that the demographic complexity of family life is here to stay.
Article
Is there an argument for behaviorally informed deregulation? In 2015, the United States government imposed 9.78 billion hours of paperwork burdens on the American people. Many of these hours are best categorized as “sludge,” understood as friction, reducing access to important licenses, programs, and benefits. Because of the sheer costs of sludge, rational people are effectively denied life-changing goods and services. The problem is compounded by the existence of behavioral biases, including inertia, present bias, and unrealistic optimism. A serious deregulatory effort should be undertaken to reduce sludge through automatic enrollment, greatly simplified forms, and reminders. At the same time, sludge can promote legitimate goals. First, it can protect program integrity, which means that policymakers might have to make difficult tradeoffs between (1) granting benefits to people who are not entitled to them and (2) denying benefits to people who are entitled to them. Second, it can overcome impulsivity, recklessness, and self-control problems. Third, it can prevent intrusions on privacy. Fourth, it can serve as a rationing device, ensuring that benefits go to people who most need them. Fifth, it can help public officials to acquire valuable information, which they can use for important purposes. In most cases, however, these defenses of sludge turn out to be far more attractive in principle than in practice. For sludge, a form of cost-benefit analysis is essential, and it will often demonstrate the need for a neglected form of deregulation: sludge reduction. For both public and private institutions, “Sludge Audits” should become routine, and they should provide a foundation for behaviorally informed deregulation. Various suggestions are offered for new action by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees the Paperwork Reduction Act; for courts; and for Congress.