In the United States, it’s that time of year again, the end of Daylight Saving Time. Except for Arizona, Hawaii, and US Territories, it’s the biannual time for pets, farm animals, children, and even adults to be confused for a few days while everyone gets used to the difference in time. This blog will look at the phenomenon of Daylight Saving Time around the world and some of the controversies surrounding it. For a more in-depth dive check out All time zones with DST, Daylight saving time by country, and Daylight Saving Time.
Dates for the time change
The change from Daylight Saving Time to Wintertime (Standard Time) is done in each country according to individually defined rules. Within the USA, this is always the 2nd Sunday in March and the 1st Sunday in November. The time is always 2:00 a.m. in the respective time zone. Within the USA, there are 7 different time zones and thus always 7 different times for the changeover. While in New York one has already changed to the next time, in Chicago, Denver or Los Angeles the changeover is still to come.
In the European Union it is always changed on the last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October. Summertime in Europe therefore starts 1-2 weeks later and ends 1 week earlier than in the USA. Also, the timing is different. The entire EU changes the clocks at the same time (2:00 a.m. CET in March, and 3:00 a.m. CEST in October). EU countries that are not in CET at all adjust the changeover to it. Portugal (CET -1) thus changes its clocks at 1 a.m. local time.
The Brazilians formerly set their watches to Wintertime in February (before abolishing DST), while neighboring Paraguay is waiting until the end of March. In nearby Chile it is the first Saturday in April and the first Monday in September.
See the graph below for other timelines of the time change in other countries:
Wintertime is Summertime in the southern hemisphere
Due to the movement of the sun between the northern and southern tropic, the annual times also shift depending on the position on the globe. In the southern hemisphere, the sun is closer in December than in the northern hemisphere. At the time of the European winter months there is summer. As a result, in the southern hemisphere you change to Summertime while the northern countries switch to Wintertime.
Global Map Outlining Countries Current and Former Observances of DST
Today, approximately 70 countries utilize Daylight Saving Time in at least a portion of the country. Japan, India, and China are the only major industrialized countries that do not observe some form of daylight saving.
While the adoption of Daylight Saving Time is almost always rife with controversy, most of the world (except for countries around the Equator) has implemented DST at one point or another. This map depicts countries that currently have DST, that previously had DST, and that never had DST.
Controversies Surrounding DST
The changeover between summer and winter times is not without controversy. Many countries are no longer participating in the time changeover at all. Countries near the equator do not need them anyway because of the similar position of the sun throughout the year. The real goal of summertime is to make better use of daylight. The effect was particularly noticeable financially when the coffers were empty in the post-war years and during the oil crisis in the 1970s.
The savings effect is now considered to have been largely disproved. Instead, the time changeover twice a year causes problems for many people. Especially children need up to a week to adjust their internal clock. Problems also arise in agriculture, because dairy cows, for example, are even worse at handling changed milking times than humans.
On the other hand, it has also been proven that more sunlight also produces more vitamins, causes less depression and, on balance, makes people feel better. In fact, the time changeover brings us 1 hour more sunlight – if you are not a late riser and early riser.
The discussions about the pros and cons of the time change are being held worldwide. Russia, for example, has now completely abandoned summertime and Turkey has declared it to be year-round time. Other countries have also completely or partially abolished summertime in recent years.
In 2018, the EU Commission conducted an online survey on the abolition of the time changeover. Around 84% of the 4.6 million participants were in favor of abolishing the time changeover. However, an overwhelming proportion of the votes came from Germany. As a result, the Commission planned to abolish summertime as early as April 2019, but after the EU member states considered this time frame too short, the Commission backed out. The new deadline was supposed to be March 28, 2021 – but the European Commission failed to agree on a uniform approach in time.