1 Volume 2 Issue 1

Household time allocation – Theoretical and empirical results from Denmark

Jens Bonke, James McIntosh

Using data from a sample of households in 1994 we find that Danish household labour allocation choices are best described by a collective model in which decisions are made cooperatively. Individual preferences are similar but there are important differences due to the differences in educational attainment. Households can be characterized as utilitarian with a sharing rule which depends on household income and is feminist rather than egalitarian. The allocation of tasks within the family depends on both the individuals’ comparative advantage in labour markets and individual preferences for paid work as well as the intra-household distribution of income. These results do not require explicit assumptions about labour supply that are often employed in the household time allocation literature.

Diary versus questionnaire information on time spent on housework – The case of Norway

Ragni Hege Kitterød, Torkild Hovde Lyngstad

Information on housework-time is important for understanding the daily life organisation of different population groups, especially parents. However, time-use surveys, which are usually seen as the best method for capturing information on unpaid work, are very costly and are conducted rather rarely in Norway. Hence, we want to assess whether housework can be adequately measured by other methods. Internationally, a great deal of work has been undertaken in cross validating diaries and questionnaires. It is often found that questionnaires generate somewhat larger estimates for housework-time than diaries, but the reporting gap varies between groups of people. It is assumed that social desirability plays an important role so that people feeling pressures to do much housework overreport their contributions more than others. In Norway, the housewife role has nearly vanished, and people now rarely meet social prescriptions to do much housework. This might imply less over-reporting in questionnaires. The present paper compares estimates for housework-time from the diary-section and the questionnaire-section in the latest Norwegian Time Use Survey with particular focus on parents. Looking at all adults we find only modest differences in the time-estimates between the two methods, but the gap varies considerably between age groups.

Non-response and population representation in studies of adolescent time use

Casey B. Mulligan, Barbara Schneide, Rustin Wolfe

Researchers have debated which methods are most valid and reliable for studying time use. One key instrument for measuring time use is the time diary, which has unique analytic properties that, if not adjusted for, can bias estimates. To assess sampling and non-response bias and potential under- or overreports of various activities, we use three different datasets to compare adolescents’ time use. Results of these comparisons are used to show how investigators can statistically adjust time use data to obtain more accurate estimates of time spent in various activities.

The time cost of care

Michael Bittman, Patricia Hill, Cathy Thomson

Extensive small scale studies have documented that when people assume the role of assisting a person with impairments or an older person, care activities account for a significant portion of their daily routines. Nevertheless, little research has investigated the problem of measuring the time that carers spend in care-related activities. This paper contrasts two different measures of care time – an estimated average weekly hours question in the 1998 Australian Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, and diary estimates from the 1997 national Australian Time Use Survey. This study finds that diaries provide information for a more robust estimate, but only after one models the time use patterns in the days of carers to identify care-related activities, which diarists do not necessarily record as care. Such a measure of care time reveals that even people who offer only occasional assistance to a person with impairments tend to spend the equivalent of more than 10 minutes a day providing care. Most caregivers undertake the equivalent of a part-time job to help a friend or family member. Summing the average caregiving time provided by all household members reveals that over a quarter of Australian households caring for an adult or child provide the equivalent of a full-time employee’s labour, and another quarter work between 20 and 39 total weekly hours to provide informal care.

Methodological issues in the estimation of parental time – Analysis of measures in a Canadian time-use survey

Cara B. Fedick, Shelley Pacholok, Anne H. Gauthier

Accurately measuring parental time is a serious issue. This paper aims to estimate and better understand the quantity of time that parents devote to child care activities, the nature of these activities, and the variability of parental time survey instruments, by comparing and contrasting four estimates from the 1998 Canadian General Social Survey (GSS). In addition to reporting GSS estimates, our analysis sheds light on dimensions of parental time not yet explored in the literature including a detailed analysis of estimates based on time spent ‘with children’ and the special GSS child care module. Key findings include: child care activities reported as primary activities give the most conservative estimate of parental time; total time spent with children gives estimates 2.5-3.5 times higher than child care activities reported as primary activities; total time spent with children gives estimates on the same magnitude as estimates based on child care as secondary activities. The stylized estimate of parental time gives an estimate on a magnitude similar to those of total time spent with children and time spent on child care from the child care module. Our paper concludes by discussing potential implications surrounding the definition of parental time, particularly with respect to issues of reliability and validity.


New developments in time technology – projects, data, computing and services