1 Volume 8 Issue 1

Incentive contracts and time use

Tor Eriksson, Jaime Ortega

Empirical studies on incentive contracts have primarily been concerned with the effects on employees’ productivity and earnings. The productivity increases associated with such contracts may, however, come at the expense of quality of life at or outside work. In this paper we study the effect on the employees’ non-work activities, testing whether incentive contracts lead to a change in the allocation of time across work and non-work activities. In doing so, we distinguish between two effects, a substitution effect and a discretion effect. On the one hand, the introduction of explicit incentives raises the marginal payoff to work, hence employees are expected to work more and spend less time on non-work activities (substitution effect). On the other hand, employees with an incentive contract tend to have more discretion to choose their work hours. Therefore, they may choose to do the same job in less time and have more spare time for non-work activities (discretion effect). Using data from the European Working Conditions Survey, we show that performance pay has a negative effect on non-work activities and a positive effect on work hours. The substitution effect is negative for men’s leisure activities and for women’s charitable and political activities.

An examination of the characteristics and time use of those who have unfilled spare time

Jennifer Baxter

While the often-heard complaint about time today is that of having too much to do and too little time, there are those who experience the opposite: they have difficulty filling the spare time that they have. This spare time can for some include times perceived to be empty of satisfying activity, and instead be associated with feelings of dissatisfaction, with frustration and boredom, and with time being spent in unproductive or even unhealthy pursuits. This paper uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics 1997 and 2006 Time Use Surveys to examine the characteristics and time use patterns associated with reporting to frequently have spare time that is difficult to fill. These analyses take a life cycle perspective to determine which men and women are at greatest risk of having this experience of time. These findings indicate that while a minority of people experience unfilled spare time, it is more common among the youngest men and women, especially those living with their parents, as well as men living alone, men and women with limited commitments to paid work or to caring, and those with a health problem and with a non-English-language background. Examining the reasons given for having unfilled spare time, lack of money is the main reason given, however other reasons also apply, and reasons differ for particular groups of people. Ill health, transport, having no friends or family nearby and lack of community facilities are some of those reasons. These data were also related to the patterns of time use to better understand the implications of having unfilled spare time for individuals' wellbeing.

Maternal child socialization values and children’s time in unstructured play and studying

John F. Sandberg

Using time diary data from the 1997 PSID CDS-I, the present study assesses the association between mother’s values concerning qualities they see as good for their children to possess for their future lives and the amount of time children spend in unstructured play and studying. The importance of everyday activity of parents in shaping these child socialization values has long been established. Previous research however has largely been unable to establish a clear association between these parental values and the structure of children’s lives. This research demonstrates such a linkage, independent of measures of socioeconomic status, family and child characteristics.

Home production – Enjoying the process or the product?

Mette Gørtz

This paper tests a household production model on data from a Danish time use survey from 2001 using GMM 3SLS. Household production includes “process benefits” accruing from the pleasure of undertaking certain housework tasks. I find no significant evidence of “process benefits”. An identification problem arises from the situation where households alternatively attach extra value to consuming home-produced goods. The outcome of these two types of benefits may in certain cases be observationally equivalent.

Activity and contextual codes – Implications for time-use coding schemes

Andrew Harvey, Jamie Spinney

Time-use studies are designed to picture human behaviour as it is played out day by day. That behaviour has many dimensions, with the main activity usually playing the starring role. However, activity context, where people are, whom they are with, “for whom” they are performing an activity, and how they feel about it can be equally, if not more, important. In reality the experience of living is the concurrent experience of all of these. Traditional activity definitions and grouping exhibit a mélange of “activity” codes developed a priory using the several dimensions based on preconceived activity expectations. Contextual dimensions are examined in a brief review of the origin and development of coding practices and major studies identifying problems at the data capture, coding, and analysis levels. A potential remedy is to be found in contextual coding, which could improve the outcome at all three stages. An alternative contextual approach, the incorporation of a “for whom” column in the diary, is recommended. Data collected from Nova Scotia teachers using two diary versions are presented to provide some insight into its use. Results differ both quantitatively and qualitatively. This approach added to both the number of work activities and the total amount of work time.


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