Growing gender gap when it comes to leisure time

British men enjoy five hours more free time a week than women, according to the Office of National Statistics. 

The latest figures show that men take, on average, 43 hours of leisure time per week, whereas women take around 38 hours of leisure time. And the gender gap is growing: according to the ONS, men are taking more leisure time than they were 15 years ago and women are taking less.

Women have less leisure time than men because they spend more time doing unpaid work, such as childcare and household chores, says the ONS, as it publishes its visual guide to the data (which builds on the figures it released last year).

Part time, more time?

When the ONS broke the figures down, it found that people who work in skilled trade professions spent the least amount of time on leisure (four hours and 34 minutes per day), compared with people in sales and customer services professions who spent the most (five hours and 21 minutes per day).

Full time employees spent had the least amount of free time (four hours and 48 minutes per day), compared with those who were employed part-time (five hours and seven minutes per day). Higher income households were more likely to enjoy leisure activities at the weekends, than those on lower incomes, who were more likely to be working.

Parents and carers

Unsurprisingly, people living with children take less leisure time than those living alone. The ONS figures show that people with a child under the age of 15 years take up to 14 hours per week less leisure time than those living on their own (though parents whose youngest child was aged five to ten took more leisure time in 2015 than in 2000). The ONS also found that amount of leisure time a parent took generally increased with the age of a child in both 2000 and 2015. However, men consistently take more leisure time than women regardless of how old the child in their household is, says the figures.

For example, in 2015, fathers whose youngest child was under five took around 30 hours of leisure time per week compared with 28.5 hours per week for mothers of similar age children. And it adds that the difference between mothers and fathers was particularly prevalent at weekends.


Across all parts of the UK, men spent more time on leisure activities than women (an average of six hours and nine minutes compared with five hours and 29 minutes per day respectively).

However, the gender gap was greatest in the North West of England (men spent seven hours per week more than women on leisure time) and smallest in Northern Ireland (identical for both men women).

People in South East England spent the most time on leisure activities (five hours and two minutes per day), compared with Northern Ireland, where they spent the least (four hours and 22 minutes per day).

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