2022-04-27 by Li Bennich-Björkman, illustration: Anna Illeby
What runs and runs but never comes to the door? So went a Swedish riddle I heard as a child. The answer was “The clock.” But it could just as easily have been “Time.” Not only does it run relentlessly and eat away at the 4,000 weeks that an average human life lasts in the richer part of the world, it is also “the same for everybody.” There are 24 hours in a day whether you live in China or New York and in those hours, you have to do everything that keeps you alive: sleep, personal care, household labor including caring for children, and paid labor. What remains of the 24 hours after all of that is done is your “discretionary time,” your spare time. The time you decide what to do with – chill in front of Netflix, go mountain biking in the woods, hang out at the local bar, or simply be. In Discretionary Time. A New Measure of Freedom, Robert Goodin and his co-authors posited the idea that discretionary time might be a resource as important as money to living a good and happy life. The more time a person has control over, once the necessities have been dealt with, the more freedom they have. People have the most of this kind of freedom, or temporal autonomy, in Sweden and the least in the United States.Continue Reading..