Schedules as sequences: a new method to analyze the use of time based on collective rhythm with an application to the work arrangements of French dual-earner couples

Laurent Lesnard

method, sequence, optimal matching analysis, collective rhythm, dual-earner couples, synchronization

This paper sets out a new method to analyze schedules with an application to the analysis of synchronization within dual-earner couples. The flaws of the traditional time-budget approach are brought to light: time is not a constant flux and disregarding the social dimension of time and the significance of scheduling dismantles a great part of the phenomenon analyzed. The method proposed is inspired by Optimal Matching techniques but also informed by sociological theory: it relies on information about the collective rhythm. This method is further applied to French dual-earner couples in 1985 and 1998 (enquĂȘtes Emploi du Temps, Insee, France, N=2574): twelve work arrangements are uncovered. Six of them refer to double full time schedules days, and two to feminine partially worked days. A significant proportion (20%) of the spouses who both worked a full time schedule experiences a high degree of desynchronization (greater than 50%). A few of them are even found to be completely desynchronized. Women who worked partially the day observed are also concerned by off-scheduling: though the probability of being desynchronized is reduced, a significant number of women work while their spouses are not working. Desynchronization dramatically increased between 1985 and 1998: more spouses work more desynchronized days but desynchronization also expands in most of the days. The increase observed is particularly prominent for couples where women work partial schedules.