Visualized: Who Americans Spend Their Time With
Who Americans Spend Their Time With
Throughout history, humans have relied on cooperation and social relationships to thrive. Of course, who we spend time with evolves throughout our lifetime.
Using insights from the American Time Use Survey and Our World in Data, we look at who Americans spend the most time with at various ages of their life.
Adolescence to Adulthood
In the average American’s teenage years, they spend most of their time alone and with their family. This makes sense, as the majority of people under 18 still live in a home with their nuclear family unit, meaning parents and siblings. Not surprisingly, adolescence is also when time spent with friends reaches its peak.
Jumping forward to a person’s early adulthood, 25-year-olds spend an average of 275 minutes per day alone, and 199 minutes with coworkers. This aligns with people in their twenties beginning to enter the workforce.
By age 35, people are still spending the most time with themselves, at 263 minutes per day. However, time spent combined with children and partners, the runner-ups, adds up to 450 minutes or around 7.5 hours a day.
|Age||Most Time Spent||Second||Third|
|15||Family - 267 Minutes||Alone - 193 Minutes||Friends - 109 Minutes|
|25||Alone - 275 Minutes||Coworkers - 199 Minutes||Partner - 121 Minutes|
|35||Alone - 263 Minutes||Children - 249 Minutes||Partner - 198 Minutes|
Although people are spending more time with kids and partners as they grow older, this trend may shift, as women are having fewer children. More women today are obtaining an education and are entering the workforce, causing them to delay or entirely put off having children.
Middle to Old Age
Upon turning 45, the average person spends 309 minutes a day alone, and in second place, 199 minutes with children. Time with coworkers remains relatively steady throughout someone’s forties, which coincides with the middle of career for most people in the workforce.
By age 55, time spent alone still takes top spot, but time spent with a partner goes up to 184 minutes, and time with coworkers also moves up, pushing out time spent with children.
|Age||Most Time Spent||Second||Third|
|45||Alone - 309 Minutes||Children - 199 Minutes||Partner - 184 Minutes|
|55||Alone - 384 Minutes||Partner - 184 Minutes||Coworkers - 163 Minutes|
|65||Alone - 444 Minutes||Partner - 243 Minutes||Family - 65 Minutes|
|75||Alone - 463 Minutes||Partner - 253 Minutes||Family - 56 Minutes|
Typically, time spent with children during the mid-fifties tends to see a sharp decline as children enter adulthood and begin to move out or spend more time out of the house.
Today, more children are staying at home longer or even moving back home. 52% of adult children in the U.S. today are living with their parents.
As people get closer to old age, around 65-years-old, they spend increasingly less time with coworkers as they begin to retire, and much more time alone or with a spouse. Then, from age 65-75, people consistently spend the most time alone, then with a partner and family.
Alone and Lonely?
One of the most significant trends on the chart is increased time spent alone.
By the time someone reaches 80, their daily minutes alone goes up to 477. This can be a problematic reality. As the population continues to age in many countries around the world, more elderly people are left without resources or social connection.
Additionally, while one quarter of elderly Americans live alone, the trend of solo living is going up across nearly every age group, and this trend applies to a number of mature economies around the world.
A natural conclusion would be that increasing alone time has negative impacts on people, however, being alone does not necessarily equate to loneliness. Our World in Data found that there was no direct correlation between living alone and reported feelings of loneliness.
One final consideration is the role technology plays in our social interactions. Thanks to smartphones and social platforms, time alone doesn’t necessarily equal isolation.
It is not just the amount of time spent with others, but the quality and expectations, that reduce loneliness.
Where does this data come from?
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, accessed on Our World in Data.
Notes: While respondents to the Time Use Survey are tracking their activity, they indicate who was present during each activity recorded. This results in the data used in this article. It’s worth noting that individuals can be counted twice, since people from various categories can be present at the same time.
Comparing Population Pyramids Around the World
Population pyramids can show a country’s demographic advantages and challenges at a glance. See how different parts of the world stack up.
Understanding and Comparing Population Pyramids
Demographic data can reveal all kinds of insights about a population, from the country’s fertility and mortality rates to how certain events and policies have shaped the makeup of a population.
Population pyramids are one of the best ways to visualize population data, and comparing the pyramids of various countries and regions side-by-side can reveal unexpected insights and differences between groups.
This graphic uses population data from the United Nations to compare the demographics of some select nations and regions of the world, showcasing how much age distributions can vary.
Three Types of Population Pyramids
Although population pyramids can come in all shapes and sizes, most generally fall into three distinct categories:
- Expansive Pyramids: Recognized by their traditional “pyramid-like” shape with a broad base and narrow top, expansive pyramids reflect a population with a high birth rate along with a high mortality rate which is most common in developing countries.
- Constrictive Pyramids: With a narrow base and thicker middle and top sections of the pyramid, constrictive pyramids often occur in developed economies whose populations have low birth rates and long life expectancies.
- Stationary Pyramids: These pyramids showcase an evenly distributed population across age groups, often found in newly-developed countries which have stable birth and mortality rates.
Each population pyramid is essentially a visual snapshot of a nation’s current demographic breakdown, shaped by fluctuating birth and mortality rates as well as changes to immigration and social policies.
Understanding the inherent risks associated with different pyramid types can help give insight into the challenges these populations face.
The Risks of Different Population Pyramid Types
Each type of population pyramid structure has unique challenges and advantages often characterized by the country or region’s current stage of economic development.
Populations with expansive pyramids, such as the one representing the continent of Africa, have the advantage of a larger youth and working-aged population, however this advantage can be rendered null if job growth, education, and health care aren’t prioritized.
Countries with constrictive pyramids like Japan face the challenge of supporting their outsized aging population with a diminishing working-aged population. While immigration and increasing birth rates can help in both the short and long term, due to the working population being outnumbered, countries with constrictive pyramids must find ways to increase their productivity to avoid potential declines in economic growth.
China and India’s Demographics Compared
After the world’s population reached eight billion people last year, 2023 brought a new population milestone as India overtook China as the world’s most populous country.
When you compare the two nations’ population pyramids, you can see how India’s population has a strong base of young and working-aged people compared to China’s more constrictive population pyramid that also features a higher median age.
This demographic difference is largely shaped by China’s one-child policy which since 2021 was loosened to be a three-child policy. As a result, China’s total fertility rate is around 1.2 today, in contrast to India’s total fertility rate of 2.0.
While India is set to ride the productivity boom of its large working-age population, the country will have to ensure it can keep its population pyramid stable as the majority of the population ages and total fertility rates continue to decline.
|Interested in learning more about the various factors that affect demographics?
VC+ Members get an exclusive look comparing the G7 and BRICS nations, how war shapes population pyramids, and immigration’s role in demographics.
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