Time is more valuable than money
There’s this common misconception that wealth is all about money. It’s not. A far more important factor is time.
In this video, why a new ‘working time inequality’ should serve as a wake-up call as we all reassess our lives and our work post-pandemic.
Today sees the publication of major report highlighting a new ‘working time inequality’ between low- and high-income households.
This issue of time is essential when it comes to wealth and what wealth truly means.
I’m going to take a look at some of the findings in this report, and share my advice for making the best possible decisions as we emerge from the lockdown and find a ‘new normal’ in this Covid-19 world.
The report is called The Time of Your Life. It comes from the Resolution Foundation, supported by Trust for London, and it explores changes in people’s time use over the past four decades.
Within the report, there’s analysis of how these time use shifts vary by gender, geography and household income level, and also where these trends may head in a post-Covid Britain.
So let’s dive in, and find out what it says and what it means.
First big finding is that gender divides in weekly working hours have shrunk over the past four decades. At a time we hear about a gender divide in essentially everything else, it’s positive to hear about a shrinking gender divide in weekly working hours.
Women have increased their paid working hours by 5 hours 18 minutes to 22 hours per week, and reduced their unpaid hours by 2 hours 44 minutes to 29 hours per week. Men, in contrast, have reduced their paid hours by 8 hours 10 minutes to 34 hours per week, and increased their unpaid hours by 5 hours 35 minutes to 16 hours per week.
So, compared to 40 years ago, women are benefiting from more paid hours of work, and men are sharing more of the burden of unpaid work. As a result, total working hours among men and women are equal, with both doing around 50 hours of paid and unpaid work per week. Equality!
Sadly, that’s not the complete picture! The report also found a new divide across household income levels.
Women living in high-income households experienced the biggest increase in paid work, and men in low-income households saw the biggest decline in paid work.
As a result, the gap in total hours of paid work between high- and low-income households has grown from 40 minutes per week in 1974 to 4 hrs 20 mins in 2014-15. We’re watching a wealth inequality emerge when it comes to time spent in paid work.
According to the Foundation, one-in-seven workers from low-income households want to work more hours each week. But, only one-in-thirty people living in high-income households are looking to pick up more paid hours of work.
They say that this disparity is a cause for concern and should not be simply written off as a lifestyle choice.
In recent times, we’ve seen debates about how desirable it is to have shorter working weeks. If we work fewer hours, we can benefit from more leisure time. But this approach would be more beneficial to men in high-income households.
And during the past four decades, we’ve actually experienced a decline in leisure time – despite technological advancement and the intention for greater efficiency in our work, we’ve spending more hours each week working, not fewer.
Only men in lower-income households have enjoyed more leisure time in the past 40 years.
Lockdown life gave many of us a taste of what a different way of doing things might look like. Working from home, where possible, shaved hours each week off commuting time. Removing the distraction of the open plan office meant the ability to get more done, when working remotely and flexibly.
It’s very hard to see how the world of work will ever be the same again after this.
But, the Resolution Foundation points out that policy makers will need to be mindful of the differences across both gender and income levels. New policies driving change in employment law and working practices could worsen an already emerging working time inequality.
George Bangham, Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said:
Debates around how people spend their time often focus on a single goal – speeding up the move to a shorter working week to enable more time for socialising, sport and hobbies.
But this isn’t how people’s lives have changed over the past four decades, desirable as it may be. Men are doing less paid work, while women are doing more. Both have less time for play – with childcare up, and leisure time down.
Instead, a worrying new ‘working time inequality’ has emerged, with low-income households working far fewer hours per week than high-income ones.
As many households rethink their time use in light of the lockdown, it’s important to remember that while some people want to work fewer hours, others want or need to work more. And for many, control of working hours can be as important as the amount they do.
As we start to figure out the ‘new normal’, we’re encouraging our clients here at Informed Choice to think very carefully about the value of their time as well as the value of their pensions, investments, savings, and other assets.
Allow you to leave you today with this quote from Jim Rohn:
Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.