Study Notes

Explaining the Work-Leisure Trade-Off

GCSE, AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 3 Feb 2023

The work-leisure trade-off is the idea that individuals face a choice between working and enjoying leisure time, and that the amount of time they allocate to each depends on their preferences and the opportunity cost of each activity.

In economics, the opportunity cost of an activity is defined as the value of the next best alternative. In the context of the work-leisure trade-off, the opportunity cost of leisure time is the foregone income from not working, while the opportunity cost of work is the time and enjoyment that could have been spent on leisure activities.

As the wage rate increases, the opportunity cost of leisure time increases, making work more attractive and leading individuals to allocate more time to work and less time to leisure.

Conversely, as the wage rate decreases, the opportunity cost of leisure decreases, making leisure more attractive and leading individuals to allocate more time to leisure and less time to work.

This trade-off is influenced by a number of factors, including individual preferences, the availability of paid work, and government policies such as minimum wage laws, tax policies, and the relative level of unemployment benefits.

The work-leisure trade-off is a fundamental concept in labour economics and is used to analyze labour supply decisions and the impact of government policies on labour market outcomes.

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