Retiree activity analysis

A few days ago I posted a survey asking retirees to answer a few questions about how they spend their free time. If you are retired and haven’t yet taken the survey, you can do so here:

Retiree activity survey

Twenty-eight responses have come in to date. If you want to see the individual question results so far, you can do so here: . There was a rather wide range of responses on most of the questions.

Here is my own summary chart showing the overall averages for all respondents over the age of 50:

Several things struck me about the results. One number not shown here is the average number of hours of free time per week for respondents. In this survey, the average for everyone over 50 (I excluded two below that age on the assumption they weren’t actually retired) was 44.29 hours. That’s about 6 hours per day. That seems really low to me. I sleep about seven and a half hours a night. I spend perhaps an hour a day eating, another half hour on changing clothes, showering, brushing teeth, etc. Chores like feeding the cat, doing dishes, mowing lawns, paying bills, running errands, etc. take maybe another hour a day on average. Throw in another hour a day to account for things that are for me rare but can take substantial time, like illness, major repair projects, travel, etc. So that’s 11 hours a day taken up with necessary stuff. That’s still 13 hours a day of free time, more than double what other respondents show. It makes me wonder why the discrepancy.

There are several possible explanations. I don’t have any grandchildren (yet- get going, kids!) and I know many retirees babysit grandchildren. I consider that a legitimate activity to put in the socializing category, assuming it’s voluntary and not done solely out of financial necessity or duty toward children, but it can take up large amounts of time and some respondents no doubt omitted that from their responses. Some retirees may still be employed at least part-time or have extensive business matters to handle. Some of that may be at least in part recreational in nature, not entirely out of financial necessity. I count all my novel-writing as hobby activity. As a business it’s a failure but I enjoy it. Some travel a lot – a category I omitted because I am trying to identify things I can do in my free time when I’m home. Please comment on this post if you have a big time commitment not included in the survey. Also, my wife does nearly all the shopping and cooking and shares other chores, so someone living alone might have more stuff to do of that nature. However, I suspect the single largest reason for the disparity is underreporting. I’m guessing that most people don’t realize how much time they spend on many things. I notice my own responses total 76 hours, less than 11 hours a day, 2 hours less than what I just estimated as my actual free time. Even though that’s one of the highest responses in the survey, it is still probably underreported. I must be guilty of this. I am probably underestimating the time I spend on the computer and TV.

This causes me to wonder about the accuracy of the results. One respondent accounted for 129 hrs/wk of free time. That’s more than 18 hours a day. That sounds like someone who is sleep-deprived. Perhaps some of that is accounted for by double counting. For example, Socializing can be a main reason for volunteer work, and people can watch TV and do crafts at the same time (my wife crochets constantly while we watch), and so forth. The person may have counted those hours in both categories. On the low end, there was someone with only 15 hours a week of free time. Ultimately,something is taking a great deal of most respondents’ time that doesn’t apply to me, and I am hoping to find out what that is. Maybe I’m missing a rewarding activity I just haven’t thought of. Please do leave comments to help me understand what that is.


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