1 Volume 6 Issue 1

Exploring time diaries using semi-automated activity pattern extraction

Katerina Vrotsou

Identifying patterns of activities in time diaries in order to understand the variety of daily life in terms of combinations of activities performed by individuals in different groups is of interest in time use research. So far, activity patterns have mostly been identified by visually inspecting representations of activity data or by using sequence comparison methods, such as sequence alignment, in order to cluster similar data and then extract representative patterns from these clusters. Both these methods are sensitive to data size, pure visual methods become too cluttered and sequence comparison methods become too time consuming. Furthermore, the patterns identified by both methods represent mostly general trends of activity in a population, while detail and unexpected features hidden in the data are often never revealed. We have implemented an algorithm that searches the time diaries and automatically extracts all activity patterns meeting user-defined criteria of what constitutes a valid pattern of interest for the user’s research question. Amongst the many criteria which can be applied are a time window containing the pattern, minimum and maximum occurrences of the pattern, and number of people that perform it. The extracted activity patterns can then be interactively filtered, visualized and analyzed to reveal interesting insights. Exploration of the results of each pattern search may result in new hypotheses which can be subsequently explored by altering the search criteria. To demonstrate the value of the presented approach we consider and discuss sequential activity patterns at a population level, from a single day perspective.

Changes in American children’s time – 1997 to 2003

Over the six-year period between 1997 and 2003 broad social changes occurred in the United States: welfare rules changed, the nation’s school policies were overhauled, America was attacked by terrorists, and American values shifted in a conservative direction. Changes in children’s time were consistent with these trends. Discretionary time declined. Studying and reading increased over the period, whereas participation in sports declined, suggesting that the increased emphasis on academics at the school level has altered children’s behavior at home as well. Increased participation in religious and youth activities and declines in outdoor activities may reflect changes in parental values and security concerns. The results suggest continuation of the upward trend in reading and studying from the 1980s and early 1990s, but increased religious attendance and youth group participation rather than increased participation in sports characterized this recent period.

Harmonising extended measures of parental childcare in the time-diary surveys of four countries – Proximity versus responsibility

Killian Mullan, Lyn Craig

Measures of childcare drawn from time-diary data are commonly based on the specific childcare activities a parent engages in throughout the day. This emphasis on activities has been criticised as it ignores the large quantity of time parents spend supervising their children. In order to provide more accurate estimates of childcare that incorporate supervisory childcare, researchers have turned to extended measures of care based on being i) in proximity to children or ii) responsible for children. There has been debate about the extent to which these approaches each measure the same aspect of childcare. In addition, it is thought they may be sensitive to the way surveys have been designed, which can affect the extent to which they can be compared crossnationally. We argue that measures of proximity and responsibility are conceptually interchangeable, and demonstrate that they can be harmonised and compared cross-nationally. Finally, we suggest ways in which these extended measures of childcare can be made increasingly comparable cross-nationally.

Predictors of time famine among Finnish employees – Work, family or leisure?

Timo Anttila, Tomi Oinas, Jouko Nätti

The recent survey data indicates that the time famine is a common experience among employees, while the data of time use indicates increased leisure time. Similarly, there are different views on the causes of time famine. Firstly, in working life research time famine is usually explained by increasing requirements of work life. Secondly, in gender studies time famine is considered to be a product of family obligations. Thirdly, some authors interpret time famine as a phenomenon relating to the intensification of leisure. The aim of the study was to examine the extent and causes of time famine among Finnish employees. The analysis was based on the Finnish Use of Time data (1999–2000) and focused on 15-64-year old employees (n=4866). The first aim of the study was to compare different measures of time famine. The descriptive analysis indicated that time famine was overrepresented among women and those who were aged between 25-54 years, who were well-educated, and had children at home. The second aim was to examine predictors of time famine. The predictors of time famine were classified in three groups: work, family, and leisure factors. The logistic regression analyses were conducted separately for men and women. The analysis focused on two indicators of time famine representing different dimensions. Lack of time indicated general time famine and being busy during the diary day indicated more dayspecific situation. The two approaches to time famine – general and day-specific – raised different explanations. The general feeling of the lack of time was predicted all three predictor groups. Daily busyness was related strongly to work factors and only weakly to family obligations or leisure activities. Thus, time famine can be examined with different ways, which produce similar picture on the overrepresentation of it among women, well-educated and families with children. However, the predictors of time famine do vary depending on gender and how time famine is measured.

Terms of marriage and time-use patterns of young wives – Evidence from rural Bangladesh

Sajeda Amin, Luciana Suran

This paper explores the relationship between marriage arrangements and daily activities of young married women, using detailed time-use data from an adolescent study in rural Bangladesh. Measures of marriage arrangement are payment of dowry and the relative wealth status of natal and marital families. The data were collected in three rural districts in 2001 and 2003. Using multivariate regression analysis, the results show that women’s time spent in domestic work, socializing, and self-care is significantly associated with marriage arrangement variables. Those who paid dowry spent more time in domestic work and less time in self-care relative to those who did not pay dowry. These patterns of association are similar to those the authors found in an earlier study between marriage arrangements and domestic violence, where paying dowry and marrying up are associated with greater violence. This paper contributes evidence regarding the non-market determinants of women’s time use patterns and highlights the contribution of marriage-related decisions to women’s well-being.

Time use and rurality – Canada 2005

Hugh Millward, Jamie Spinney

This paper provides a preliminary assessment of rurality as a factor affecting where and how people use their time, in a North American context. Rurality is a complex concept, but two key aspects are the degree of urban influence, and economic dependence on resource industries (farming and fishing particularly). Using dichotomous variables from the 2005 Canadian time use survey, we find that rural residence and resource employment both strongly influence time use and travel behaviour. Responding to fewer and more distant opportunities, people with rural residence participate less than urbanites in paid work, education, and shopping, and thus on average spend less time in these activities. Differences in time use between resource and nonresource workers are generally less marked than those related to urban versus rural workers. However, resource workers spend significantly less time in care-giving and sports, and more time in shopping and education. Participation in many activities is lower for resource workers, but those who participate spend significantly more time in paid work, domestic work, shopping, and education. Rural residents were found to spend considerably less time in travel than urban dwellers. On average, they take fewer trips per day, of shorter average duration, and spend less time in travel. Resource workers take significantly fewer trips than non-resource workers, spend less total time in travel, and have trips of lower average duration.

Keeping in touch – A benefit of public holidays using time use diary data

Joachim Merz, Lars Osberg

This paper argues that public holidays facilitate the co-ordination of leisure time but do not constrain the annual amount of leisure. Public holidays therefore have benefits both in the utility of leisure on holidays and (by enabling people to maintain social contacts more easily) in increasing the utility of leisure on normal weekdays and weekends. The paper uses the variation in public holidays across German Länder based on more than 37.000 individual diary data of the actual German Time Use Survey of 2001-02 to illustrate the positive association between more public holidays and social life on normal weekdays and weekends. These benefits are additional to the other, direct benefits of public holidays.


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