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Xboxes and Ex-workers? Gaming and Labor Supply of Young Adults in the U.S.

Kimbrough, Gray (2019): Xboxes and Ex-workers? Gaming and Labor Supply of Young Adults in the U.S.

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One popular hypothesis holds that the increasing appeal of video games over the last decade has led men to reduce working hours. I examine American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data in detail, documenting the extent of the increase in gaming. I note that increasing gaming time is offset by decreasing time spent watching television, movies, and streaming video. Moreover, I find that the observed trend is consistent with an alternative explanation, that a shift in social norms rendered playing video games more acceptable at later ages, particularly for non-employed men. The increase in gaming is concentrated among men living with parents, and is not uniform for all ages of young adults. The data further suggest that men exiting the work force do not exhibit significant preferences for gaming leisure. Overall, the evidence suggests that while young men have dramatically increased the amount of time they spend gaming over the past decade and a half, their decreasing levels of employment and labor force participation are more likely to result from changes in labor demand.

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