Friday, March 7, 2014

Who Really Benefits from Daylight Saving Time?

From The Takeaway:

Most Americans will "spring forward" this weekend and lose an hour to daylight saving time. But daylight savings is hardly standardized in the United States, much less the world: Both Hawaii and Arizona will stick with standard time on Sunday, and Europe won't spring forward until March 30th. Few other countries practice daylight savings at all.

Michael Downing, a lecturer at Tufts University and author of the book, Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,started wondering about the history and purpose of daylight savings a few years ago. He began to research the phenomenon and realized that most of the justifications for the practice that he remembered had very little to do with its existence.

"There's a reason for doing it—it's simply not the reason we were told for the past 100 years, which was to save energy," says Downing. "We haven't squeezed a drop of energy out of our clocks yet, but there are a number of reasons we are doing it and continue to get more of it every year."

Downing says that while most people believe that daylight saving time was designed to benefit farmers or school children, those theories are actually false.

"In fact, school children and their advocates have always opposed daylight saving because by moving the clocks forward we get less morning sunlight and children are out on dark streets," he says. "The same goes for the farmers. I always thought we did it for the farmers and that I was assisting American agriculture in some way every spring. It turns out, the farmers has always hated daylight saving."

So if daylight savings isn't helping children or agriculture, why is it that the United States follows through with this tradition? Downing says the answer can be found in the sport of golf. He says it is "the most important reason we're still doing and expanding the period of daylight saving time."

"For people who don't play golf, they should care a lot about the fact that daylight savings time creates additional opportunities for people to play golf," says Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation... golf facilities are small businesses and they're usually among the most stable employers and source of revenue for local suppliers than any other business."

So did the sports lobby alone create the false myths about farmers and school kids to make sure daylight saving time stays a reality? According to Downing, the effort to roll the clocks ahead is also an initiative pushed by the business community.

"Since 1915, the principal supporter of daylight saving in the United States has been the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of small business and retailers," says Downing. "The Chamber understood that if you give workers more sunlight at the end of the day they'll stop and shop on their way home. It's not just golf—the barbecue industry loves daylight savings, so do the home good stores because people tend to go out of their houses, see that their roofs need replacing and buy more shingles. It's a really important part of niche marketing for the retail industry."


  1. Just Spring forward and stay there. I'd rather wake up in the dark than finish work in it.

    As for school kids, study after study shows that kids perform better in late morning and afternoon. End the stupidity of 8 am start and 2:30 pm end and go to 9 am start AT LEAST and never make them take a test before 10 am.

  2. so it's a business subsidy. once again communism rears it's ugly head. in a free market there are no clocks. only a snake in a tree trying to get you to eat an apple.

    1. Jerry, please take your medicine and stop bothering other people.

  3. I always thought it benefited the military. The military people always get up super early, so daylight savings gives them more daylight after they get off work. May be most of the top brass go to play golf, in which case the two theories coincide.

  4. I farm and I absolutely hate DST. Wish they would just leave it alone.