The favourite pastimes of the rich, the poor, and the middle class

Got the day off? Most Canadians do, (Sorry, Quebec.) How are you spending your August long weekend? How you choose to spend our free time could depend on your income.

It’s not just based on how much you can afford. There are some free activities that are more often enjoyed by the wealthy, and some costly ones that are popular amongst the less well-off.

A new study has revealed the differences (and similarities) in how people of various socio-economic standing choose to use their time. Based on data from the massive American Time Use Survey, the chart below shows the behaviours by income level. The darker green indicated greater wealth, while the darker the blue, the less well-off the participants were.

It probably comes as no surprise that wealthier people enjoy golfing and boating. However, running – which is free and seems like it could be an equal-opportunity activity – ranks highly amongst the wealthy and is under-represented in other classes.

While playing softball is popular with the wealthy, playing baseball falls squarely in the middle. Other activities enjoyed across income levels include reading, socializing, walking and personal computer use.

If you watch James Bond movies, you might expect casinos to be packed with the glamourous wealthy in tuxedos and gowns engaged in high-stakes games of chance. In reality, ‘attending gambling institutions’ is a much more popular activity with those people of the lowest income level.

The top ten pastimes of the wealthy

  • Golf
  • Racquet sports
  • Softball
  • Running
  • Attending performing arts
  • Watching baseball
  • Using cardiovascular equipment
  • Volleyball
  • Yoga
  • Boating

Three activities that meet right in the median income level

  • Attending meetings for personal interest (not volunteering)
  • Reading for personal interest
  • Playing basketball

The ten activities most popular amongst the lowest income level

  • Playing games
  • Playing soccer
  • Listening to / playing music
  • Attending gambling institutions
  • Playing billiards
  • Television and movies (not religious)
  • Relaxing, thinking
  • Tobacco and drug use
  • Listening to the radio
  • Television (religious)

It makes sense that playing soccer appears on this list. One of the reasons that ‘The Beautiful Game’ is popular all over the world is the low cost of participating. Unlike many other sports, there is no pricey equipment required before you can start enjoying soccer.

So, while this survey is American and does not include hockey, Canada’s game is increasingly becoming a sport for the children of wealthier parents simply because the cost of the gear keeps many people out.

Here is the full chart:
(Click on the image to open a larger version)

Source: The American Time Use Survey: Pastimes and Income

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