Source: The Australian, Tuesday October 31, 1995, p.3
By social affairs writer MICHELLE GUNN YOUNG people, single par- ents and couples without children spend as much or more time watching television and listening to music each week as they do earning a living, according to the first national study on how Australian families spend their time. Teenagers also spend just as much time socialising and being entertained each week as they do on school and homework or university and study. But when it comes to maxi- mising "free time" Australia's youth are well and truly outdone by. their elders. Retirees, having had their fair share of work and family commitments, spend more time on leisure, entertainment and social life than any other group in the country, averaging 55 hours a week. Focus on Families: Family Life is the sixth and final publication of a series undertaken by the ABS as a contribution to International Year of the Family. It examines how members of Australian families spend their time and with whom. The study found that time spent on sleep, meals and personal hygiene accounts for just under half of each person's week. Depending on work and family commitments, between a fifth and a third of our time is spent on social life, entertainment and leisure activities. Not surprisingly, parents with two to four-year-old children have less free time than anyone, with about 32 hours a week. This compares with 45 hours for young people without children. Focus on Families also con- tains the first examination of the amount of time people spend with their families. It reveals the alarming fact that older men who live by themselves spend 85 per cent of their time or 142 hours a week alone. These men experience greater social isolation than older women, who are more likely to have close relatives outside the household and who are better at maintaining their friends as they get older. This is borne out by the fact that women over 60 who live alone spend an average of 16 hours a week with family mem- bers, whereas the men spend just five. Also, unlike women, men spend more time alone as they grow older, with those aged 75 and over spending 154 hours a week or 91 per cent of the week by themselves. These trends were echoed in younger age brackets with women aged 25-59 who live alone spending 62 hours a week with family and friends compared with 54 hours for men. Young single people living away from the family home spend more than twice as much time alone (30 hours a week) as those living in families (11 hours). But these 15 to 24-year-olds still spend about six hours a week on social and leisure activities with family members. Childless couples spend 77 per cent of their time with family, most of it with their partner alone. Those with children averaged 78 per cent of their week with family, but less than 10 per cent of this was spent alone with their partner.
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