There are still only 24 hours in a day

Friday, June 30th, 2023

Real GDP per capita has doubled since the early 1980s, Alex Tabarrok noted, but there are still only 24 hours in a day:

How do consumers respond to all that increased wealth and no additional time? By focusing consumption on goods that are cheap to consume in time. We consume “fast food,” we choose to watch television or movies “on demand,” rather than read books or go to plays or live music performances. We consume multiple goods at the same time as when we eat and watch, talk and drive, and exercise and listen. And we manage, schedule and control our time more carefully with time planners, “to do” lists and calendaring. A search at Amazon for “time management,” for example, leads to over 10,000 hits.

Time management is a cognitively strenuous task, leaving us feeling harried. As the opportunity cost of time increases, our concern about “wasting” our precious hours grows more acute. On balance, we are better off, but the blessing of high-value time can overwhelm some individuals, just as can the ready availability of high-calorie food.


By the way, the same theory also explains why life often appears to unfold at a slower, more serene pace in developing nations. It’s not just an illusion of being on holiday. In places where time is less economically valuable, meals stretch more leisurely, conversations delve deeper, and time itself seems to trudge rather than race. In contrast, with economic development comes an increased pace of life–characterized by a proliferation of fast food, accelerated conversation, and even brisker walking (Levine & Norenzayan, 1999).


  1. Jim says:

    All what increased wealth? The economy mostly stopped growing after the inimitable Mr. Nixon was overthrown. Titanic chunks were literally disassembled, put on ships, and sailed to China et al. What is left today floats uneasily upon a frothy-cum-roiling pea-soup-green sea of fictitious dollars, created out of nothing by commercial banks’ purchase of mortgage notes, and the everywhere-felt-but-not-seen lovecraftian submarine horror-world of securitization and speculation thereupon. Alex Tabarrok will never address money-creation, confront the Uniform Commercial Code, or touch the diminution of labor against capital, scored in real-time by the stock market, because he is a career professional court prophet for his daily bread utterly dependent on the sovereign’s continuing favor.

  2. Natureboi says:

    Real GDP is a make believe number. It does not measure anything material.

    The vast majority of Americans have become significantly poorer. This is obvious because 60 years ago almost no family had more than one parent working outside the home. Now that almost every family household is dual income, everyone should have a lifestyle reflecting they are twice as rich. That’s obviously not the case.

    Tabarock and his economist fags have always been retarded.

  3. Bob Sykes says:

    The real incomes of the working class has declined substantially, and middle class earnings have stagnated. The rich have captured all the growth in GDP, and they have even clawed away income from the workers.

    The flood of cheap immigrant labor continues unabated. The war on unions has been a complete success. California radicals even cancelled Caesar Chavez (RIP), because he knew his members were impoverished by illegal immigration.

  4. TRX says:

    I look at where I stood financially forty years ago vs. now… I’ve slipped a long way down from then. Just keeping up with the bills is about it, now. We haven’t done the “vacation” thing since the 20th century due to lack of funds.

    We’re making “more” money than 1983, but inflation means prices have gone up so much we’re way behind what our real purchasing power was back then.

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