Under Pressure: Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Free Time and Feeling Rushed

Marybeth Mattingly, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
L C. Sayer, Ohio State University - Main Campus


Free time has the potential to reduce time pressures, yet previous studies paradoxically report increases in free time concurrent with increases in feeling rushed. Using U.S. time diary data from 708 individuals in 1975 and 964 individuals in 1998, we review the evidence on trends in free time and subjective perceptions of feeling rushed, and reexamine the relationship between free time and time pressure. We find that women's time pressure increased significantly between 1975 and 1998 but men's did not. In addition, the effects of objective time constraints vary by gender. Whereas more free time reduces men's perceptions of feeling rushed at both time points, among women, free time marginally reduced time pressure in 1975 but no longer reduced time pressure in 1998. Our findings suggest that persistent inequality in gendered time-use patterns is paralleled by gendered experiences of time pressure.