A call to action: How Indian men can support working women's progress
Time-use studies show we must address a gender bias in our work-life balance as India aspires for women-led development
In a standard economic model, agents maximize utility across goods, services and leisure. Economic agents work and forgo leisure only to earn wages or income to purchase goods and services. Agents in these models are free to form preferences over leisure, implying that if there is an alternative source of income that does not require an individual to work, then there is a possibility that some agents might choose not to work. However, for those agents who choose to work, there is a further possibility that if they become more productive and wage rates go up, then they might reduce their labour supply. There are opposing effects of an increase in wage rates: a substitution effect that makes leisure more expensive, and may therefore cause a substitution of leisure for work, and a contrasting income effect, such that if one’s overall income goes up due to higher wage rates, the individual might reduce work hours in pursuit of leisure. The effect that dominates, however, is an empirical question. A fundamental lesson from this simple model, which is deprived of cultural and historical factors and denies the role of institutions that limit an individual’s actions, is that the pursuit of leisure is one of the primary objectives of the individual. It is only tempered to the extent that agents maximize utility over other goods and services, some of which can only be purchased from markets, which requires an income. Even though leisure is a vital utility-maximizing activity, there is limited focus on it, and it is typically overshadowed by topics related to work, employment and labour force participation.