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Study: Workaholics and time perception

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The Daily

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One out of every three Canadians identifies themselves as a workaholic, and these individuals are much more likely to be dissatisfied with the balance between their work and family time than other workers, a new study has found.

The study, published today in the May online edition of Canadian Social Trends, used data from the 2005 General Social Survey (GSS) to examine whether quality of life is different for workers who describe themselves as workaholics than for those who do not self-identify as workaholics.

The self-identification question is one of a set of questions designed to measure Canadians' perceptions of time pressure, especially as it affects the balance between work and family life. These questions have been asked since 1992 in the GSS and have been used extensively in academic research.

Quality of life was measured using three criteria: balance between work and family time, time pressure and general life satisfaction. The perceptions and thresholds depend to a large extent on a worker's family, social and work circumstances. Crossing these thresholds can have important impacts on their lives.

The study found that almost one-third (31%) of working Canadians aged 19 to 64 identify themselves as workaholics. This proportion has not changed since the GSS first began collecting these data 15 years ago.

About 39% of self-identified workaholics reported that they usually worked 50 or more hours per week, twice the proportion of only 20% among non-workaholics.

On the other hand, 65% of workaholics worried that they do not spend enough time with family and friends, a much higher proportion than the 45% of non-workaholics who reported doing so. They were also more likely to report that the general state of their health was fair or poor, and that they had trouble sleeping.

However, they did not enjoy their jobs more than other workers. On a 10-point scale, both groups reported an average satisfaction score of 7.4 with their work.

Similarly, there was no difference in terms of satisfaction with their financial situation, suggesting that people who consider themselves workaholics are driven to work as they do by reasons other than the need to earn more income.

The study found that a higher proportion of self-identified workaholics appeared to recognize that they have a problem using their time effectively.

They were more likely than non-workaholics to feel rushed, trapped in a daily routine, and unable to accomplish what they set out to do at the beginning of the day.

Over one-half (56%) felt they simply did not have time for fun, much higher than the one-third (34%) of non-workaholics who felt that way.

According to the 2005 GSS, there was no significant difference between self-identified workaholics and non-workaholics in terms of their personal income, education, marital status, family structure, or place of residence.

But compared with non-workaholics, workaholics were more likely to be in management jobs and less likely to be professionals. It is possible that professionals accept that working longer hours are an integral part of their professional role.

This online edition of Canadian Social Trends also contains the article "Aboriginal languages in Canada: Emerging trends and perspectives on second language acquisition."

The article uses census data for 2001 and 1996 to show that the declining transmission of Aboriginal mother tongues from generation to generation was offset by the fact that Aboriginal languages were also being learned as second languages.

One-quarter (24%) of the Aboriginal population in Canada was able to speak or understand an Aboriginal language, down from 29% in 1996. Much of this was due to the declining population of people who had an Aboriginal mother tongue.

However, the loss of mother tongue speakers was counterbalanced to some degree by the number of people learning an Aboriginal language as their second language. According to the 2001 Census, 20% of all people who spoke an Aboriginal language, more than 47,100, had learned it as a second language.

Furthermore, people who spoke an Aboriginal language as a second language tended to be considerably younger than those who spoke it as a mother tongue. About 45% of those speaking it as second language were less than 25 years old, compared with 38% of people having an Aboriginal language as mother tongue.

Interestingly, younger generations living outside Aboriginal communities, especially those in urban areas, were also likely to learn an Aboriginal language as a second language rather than as a mother tongue.

For example, among registered Indians living off-reserve, 165 children aged 10 to 14 were able to speak a First Nation language for every 100 children with a First Nation mother tongue.

The growth of a youthful population of second language speakers may have significant implications for the long-term viability of Aboriginal languages, especially those that are considered endangered.

Among some of the most endangered languages, for example, Tlingit, Haida and some of the smaller Salish languages, second language learners accounted for over half the speaking population.

New data on Aboriginal languages from the 2006 Census of Population will become available in December 2007.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3901 and 4503.

The studies "Time escapes: Workaholics and time perception" and "Aboriginal languages in Canada: Emerging trends and perspectives on second language acquisition" are now available in the May 2007 issue of Canadian Social Trends, Vol. 83 (11-008-XWE, free) from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-5979;, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.