The way educated women spend their time in the United States and other rich countries has changed radically over the past half a century. Women in the US now spend around 45 minutes per day in total on cooking and cleaning up; that is still much more than men, who spend just 15 minutes a day. But it is a vast shift from the four hours a day which was common in the 1960s. We know all this from time-use surveys conducted around the world. And we know the reasons for the shift. One of the most important of those is a radical change in the way food is prepared. As Tim Harford explains, the TV dinner – and other convenient innovations which emerged over the same period – have made a lasting economic impression.

Producer: Ben Crighton
Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon

(Image: TV Dinner, Credit: Shutterstock)

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Available now

9 minutes

Last on

Mon 3 Apr 2017 03:50 GMT
BBC World Service Online, UK DAB/Freeview only

Sources and related links


Alison Wolf - The XX Factor, p80-85 

Valerie Ramey - “Time spent in home production in the 20th century” NBER Paper 13985 (2008)  

Valerie Ramey - “A century of work and leisure” NBER Paper 12264 (2006) 

Cutler, David, Edward Glaeser and Jesse Shapiro - “Why have Americans become more obese?” Journal of Economic Perspectives (2003) 17, no. 3: 93-118 doi:10.1257/089533003769204371  


Matt Philips - “No One Cooks Any More” Quartz 14 June 2016