BEST IELTS General Reading Test 30
GENERAL READING TEST 30 – PASSAGE – 3
GENERAL READING TEST 30
READING PASSAGE – 3
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 28-40 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.
A. As most Americans will tell you if you can stop them long enough to ask, working people in the United States are as busy as ever. Sure, technology and competition are boosting the economy; but nearly everyone thinks they have increased the demands on people at home and in the workplace. But is the overworked American a creature of myth?
B. A pair of economists have looked closely at how Americans actually spend their time. Mark Aguiar, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Erik Hurst, at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business constructed four different measures of leisure. The narrowest includes only activities that nearly everyone considers relaxing or fun; the broadest counts anything that is not related to a paying job, housework or errands as “leisure”. No matter how the two economists slice the data, Americans seem to have much more free time than before.
C. Over the past four decades, depending on which of their measures one uses, the amount of time that working-age Americans are devoting to leisure activities has risen by 4-8 hours a week. For somebody working 40 hours a week, that is equivalent to 5-10 weeks of extra holiday a year. Nearly every category of American has more spare time: single or married, with or without children, both men and women. Americans may put in longer hours at the office than other countries, but that is because average hours in the workplace in other rich countries have dropped sharply.
D. How then have Messrs Aguiar and Hurst uncovered a more relaxed America, where leisure has actually increased? It is partly to do with the definition of work, and partly to do with the data they base their research upon. Most American labour studies rely on well-known official surveys, such as those collected by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) and the Census Bureau, that concentrate on paid work. These are good at gleaning trends in factories and offices, but they give only a murky impression of how Americans use the rest of their time. Messrs Aguiar and Hurst think that the hours spent at your employer’s are too narrow a definition of work. Americans also spend lots of time shopping, cooking, running errands and keeping house. These chores are among the main reasons why people say they are so overstretched, especially working women with children.
E. However, Messrs Aguiar and Hurst show that Americans actually spend much less time doing them than they did 40 years ago. There has been a revolution in the household economy. Appliances, home delivery, the internet, 24-hour shopping, and more varied and affordable domestic services have increased flexibility and freed up people’s time.
F. The data for Messrs Aguiar and Hurst’s study comes from time-use diaries that American social scientists have been collecting methodically, once a decade, since 1965. These diaries ask people to give detailed information on everything they did the day before, and for how long they did it. The beauty of such surveys, which are also collected in Australia and many European countries, is that they cover the whole day, not just the time at work, and they also have a built-in accuracy check, since they must always account for every hour of the day.
G. Do the numbers add up? One thing missing in Messrs Aguiar’s and Hurst’s work is that they have deliberately ignored the biggest leisure-gainers in the population, the growing number of retired folk. The two economists excluded anyone who has reached 65 years old, as well as anyone under that age who retired early. So America’s true leisure boom is even bigger than their estimate.
H. The biggest theoretical problem with time diaries is “multi-tasking”. Do you measure the time you spend cleaning your house while listening to portable music as “leisure” or “work”? This problem may be exaggerated: usually people seem to combine two work activities, using a laptop computer on a plane, or two leisure ones, watching television and doing something else. The two economists counted many combinations of work and leisure, such as reading a novel while commuting or goofing off on the internet at the office, as time spent working.
I. Is all this leisure a good thing? Some part-time workers might well wish they had less leisure and more income. For most Americans, however, the leisure dividend appears to be a bonus. Using average hourly wages after tax, Steven Davis, a colleague of Mr Hurst’s, reckons that the national value of five extra hours of leisure per week is $570 billion, or $3,300 per worker, every year.
The text has nine paragraphs, A-I.
Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.
i. Match each heading to the most suitable paragraph.
ii. One possible source of inaccuracies
iii. Less time doing chores
iv. A difference between perception and reality
v. The value of extra leisure time
vi. Americans are working harder
vii. Significantly more free time
viii. The effect of including retirees
ix. The need for a wider description of work
x. An effective system for measuring time spent
xi. How Americans think about their time
28. Paragraph A
29. Paragraph B
30. Paragraph C
31. Paragraph D
32. Paragraph E
33. Paragraph F
34. Paragraph G
35. Paragraph H
36. Paragraph I
Choose A, B or C.
37. Americans seem to spend more time in the office than people in other rich countries
A. Because of the increase in Americans leisure time
B. Because of a decrease in leisure time in the other rich countries
C. Because of a decrease in office time in the other rich countries
38. One problem with data from the BLS is that
A. it is unclear about out of work time
B. it is limited to factories and offices
C. it does not include leisure time
39. Time-use diaries
A. are only available in America and Australia
B. are the most accurate time use measurement tool
C. provide data for 24 hours of each day
40. Aguiar and Hurst counted multi-tasking activities of leisure and work
A. as free time
B. as work time
C. as neither free time or work time