Leisure Business

February 28, 1973

Report Outline
Fast Rise in Recreational Spending
Gradual Increase of Leisure Time
Problems Facing a Leisure Society
Special Focus

Fast Rise in Recreational Spending

Estimates as to Size of Booming Leisure Industry

Mass leisure is both a promise and problem in modern society. It is said that Americans are moving toward the carefree Polynesian pattern of life, devoting less and less of their lives to the workshop and more and more to the pursuit of pleasure. This line of thinking draws impressive support from statistical evidence compiled by government and business on hours worked, dollars earned and money spent. It is also said that Americans have no knack for the true enjoyment of leisure and fill their new-found free time in boredom or recreational consumerism. But if increased leisure is a mixed blessing in the eyes of social scientists and a cause of concern to environmentalists, it is a bonanza for a growing segment of American business known as the “Good Life Industry.”

Collectively, Americans spend billions on the “Good Life” every year and the amount is increasing. The Forbes magazine Annual Report on American Industry, a general investment guide, describes the recreation business as a “fast growth area.” There are several reasons why this is so. Aside from the fact that Americans have the time for recreation, they also have the money and the mobility to enjoy it. As Forbes noted, there is something compulsive about the way Americans spend money on recreation: “Free time unused is almost a sin. To be transformed into leisure time, it must be used, it must be filled to overflowing.”

The “Good Life Industry” is enormous. A list of the goods and services people buy for recreation is endless. They range from snowmobiles to swimwear, from the drinks consumed at a “singles” bar to a second home in the country, from needlework materials to pleasure yachting, from camping in the wilderness to playing roulette in Las Vegas, and from ballet to boxing. The Economic Unit of U.S. News & World Report estimated early in 1972 that during the year “spending on spare-time activities” would total $105 billion—more than is spent for national defense or the construction of new homes.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
Consumer Behavior
General Employment and Labor
Popular Culture