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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Time Use, Happiness and Implications for Social Policy: A Report to the United Nations


This paper examines the importance of time use and temporal values for the achievement of happiness and draws implications for public policy. First, it reviews literature concerning the inter-relationships of time, money and happiness, with a focus on the relevance of time use to well-being and happiness. Second, it reviews data and issues concerning work and non-work hours around the world, with an emphasis on the quality of time use within these activities. Third, it describes a broader range of temporal issues to be considered in policymaking decisions, e.g. clock versus event time-keeping, monochronic versus polychronic approaches, the definition of wasted time, the pace of life and temporal orientation. Finally, based on this review, suggestions are offered for the formulation of time-use policies intended to increase individual and collective happiness.

Insights Paper