Monday, July 3, 2017

Video games and male work

NBER working paper 23552 posits that innovation in video games since 2004 might explain half the increase in leisure time for men aged 21-30, among whom work hours fell 12% by 2015. A lot of the change was coincident with the tech bubble contraction of 2001 and the Great Recession, but Aguiar et al. show in this paper that young male labor supply fell by more than other groups. They argue that video games, which appear to uniquely absorb leisure time of young males, were the reason.

Here's a related article from June by Peter Suderman on video games that posit that they "offer a sort of universal basic income for the soul."

And here's an article by Robert VerBruggen laying out this topic alongside a discussion of the effect of competing immigrant labor on this age group. VerBruggen mentions the point that TV watching is still a much larger share of leisure time than video games even for young men.

One could presumably test these competing hypotheses, maybe by looking at geographic variation. Patterns in competing labor surely vary across space, and for that matter, the depth and duration of the Great Recession also varied across space, but prices and quality of video gaming probably only vary across time. It would also be possible although maybe a little dicey to look at classes of labor by education. It is well known that if U.S. immigration has an economic impact, it tends to be felt by less educated natives.