Daylight Savings Time - Expanding Daylight Savings Time Favors Men, Not Women

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In his 2005 book Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, Tufts University professor Michael Downing traces the history of Daylight Savings Time to reveal how various isegments of the private sector have lobbied Congress for decades to go against nature and essentially alter "real" time to serve their interests.

Financiers vs. Farmers

One early proponent was Wall Street. The creation of DST enabled the New York and London Exchanges to overlap hours of operation and therefore be open simultaneously, benefiting the financial industry.

Farmers fought against DST as it wreaked havoc on decades of established animal husbandry and agricultural practices. But they lacked the clout of the Chamber of Commerce which recognized that an extra hour of evening daylight would profit retailers. Throughout its 90-year history, DST has been pulled and stretched like salt water taffy to serve the whims of lobbyists hungry for more opportunities.

Golf, Grilling and Gas

In 1986 Congress added an additional month, expanding DST from 6 to 7 months. As Downing explained to NPR in a 2007 interview, testimony during the congressional hearings indicated what was at play:
[T]he golf industry alone...told Congress one additional month of daylight saving was worth $200 million in additional sales of golf clubs and greens fees. The barbecue industry said it was worth $100 million in additional sales of grills and charcoal briquettes.
Their avarice is nothing compared to the oil industry, which continues to push the 'energy saving' myth of DST even though, as Downing observed, "Daylight Saving increases gasoline consumption, something the petroleum industry has known since 1930."

Sweetening the Deal

The aforementioned 2005 bill – adding yet another month to DST – was also influenced by another industry with plenty to gain at Halloween.

Downing recalled:
For 25 years, candy-makers have wanted to get trick-or-treat covered by Daylight Saving, figuring that if children have an extra hour of daylight, they'll collect more candy....[D]uring the 1985 hearings on Daylight Saving...[they] put candy pumpkins on the seat of every senator, hoping to win a little favor.
Now, with DST 8 months long and Standard Time only 4 months long, as Downing noted, "it does call into question the very phrase Standard Time...if we're spending eight months off of standard time."

More Leisure for Men, More Challenges for Women

What's curious about the long history of DST is that this manipulation of time consistently caters to the needs of men far more than it accomodates women. According to public opinion polling firm Rasmussen Reports, "Men tend more than than women to think advancing the clock an hour to guarantee more sunlight in the afternoon and evening is worth the trouble."
And no wonder. Men's leisure time has been expanded while women's lives have been negatively affected.

Mothers with young children who don't live by "clock time" -- but who follow natural activity/rest cycles and wake up and go to bed with the sun -- find their sleep patterns disrupted. Families also have a hard time reestablishing a regular sleep schedule for their children with every "spring ahead" and "fall back" period of adjustment.

Next page: Is Daylight Savings Time in the Best Interests of Voters and the Public?

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