Does Diary Mode Matter in Time-Use Research?

Stella Chatzitheochari, Elena Mylona

Diary Quality, Mode Effects, Mixed-Mode Surveys, New Technologies, Young People

Recent years have witnessed an increasing interest in the use of new technologies for time-use data collection, driven by their potential to reduce survey administration costs and improve data quality. However, despite the steady growth of studies that employ web and app time diaries, there is little research on their comparability with traditional paper-administered diaries that have long been regarded as the “gold standard” for measurement in time-use research. This paper investigates diary mode effects on data quality and measurement, drawing on data from a mixed-mode large-scale time diary study of adolescents in the United Kingdom. After controlling for observable characteristics associated with diary mode selection and adolescent time-use, we find that web and app diaries yield higher quality data than paper diaries, which attests to the potential of new technologies in facilitating diary completion. At the same time, our analysis of broad time-use domains does not find substantial mode effects on measurement for most daily activity categories. We conclude by discussing avenues for future methodological research and implications for time-use data collection.