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Society at a Glance reveals evolving social trends in OECD countries


04/05/2009 - The French spend more time sleeping than anyone else in OECD countries. They also devote more time to eating than anyone else and nearly double that of Americans, Canadians or Mexicans. The Japanese sleep nearly an hour less every night than the French and also spend longer at work and commuting than they do indulging in leisure activities.

These are some of the insights into the differing ways in which OECD countries use that most fundamental of resources, time, in the latest edition of Society at a Glance.

Society at a Glance gives an overview of social trends and policy developments in OECD countries using indicators taken from OECD studies and other sources. It attempts to help people see how their societies have changed, particularly in comparison with other countries.

A special chapter in the report investigates leisure time in the 18 OECD countries for which up-to-date time-use surveys are available. The time-use surveys included in this report are from 2006 and based on nationally representative samples of between 4000 and 200000 people.

The report reveals big differences in the amount of time men and women have for leisure. Italian men have nearly 80 minutes a day of leisure more than women. Much of the additional work of Italian women is apparently spent cleaning the house. Norway is the most equal society, with men having only a few more minutes of leisure than women.

Norwegians spend just over a quarter of their time on leisure, the highest among OECD countries, while Mexicans spend just 16%, the lowest.

So what are we doing with our leisure time? Watching TV absorbs nearly half of all leisure time in Mexico and Japan and falls to a low of 25% in New Zealand. Turkey is the most sociable nation, spending 35% of leisure time entertaining friends, more than triple the OECD average of 11%. But OECD countries are not very physically active: Spain reports the highest proportion of leisure time spent doing regular physical activities. Even there, exercise accounts for a mere 13% of leisure time.

Other social indicators covered in Society at a Glance include adult height, fertility rates, education spending, income inequality, obesity, healthcare spending and life  and work satisfaction.
Country notes are available from for Austria (in German), Canada, France (in English and French), Germany (in german), Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland (in German), United Kingdom and United States.

Journalists can obtain a copy of this publication via the Password-protected Web site  for accredited journalists or from the OECD's Media Relations Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).
Non-journalists can download the raw data underlying each indicator and find out how to obtain a copy of this publication here.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Simon Chapple (tel. + 33 1 45 24 85 45) in the OECD's Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate.


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