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August 1999, Vol. 122, No. 8
What can we learn from time-use data?Mary Joyce and Jay Stewart
The study of economics often is
concerned with optimal decision making in the face of
some sort of constraint. Economist Thomas Juster has argued that the ultimate constraint on human activity is time.1 We are each given 24 hours per day to devote to competing uses, and how we use that time has important implications for our financial security, health, emotional well-being, and general level of happiness. Time-use surveys attempt to measure the numerous and diverse ways in which people use those precious 24 hours.
Time-use data could contribute to research and policy analysis in a number of areas. One area that has recently received considerable attention is the prospect of measuring and valuing unpaid but productive activities (that is, nonmarket work) with the ultimate goal of including the value of these activities in a satellite account of the National Income and Product Accounts. Although the valuation of nonmarket work has been the primary political impetus behind the collection of time-use data, it is by no means the only use of these data. In this article, we discuss some of the many research applications of time-use data.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 1999 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 See F. Thomas Juster, "Time Use Data: Analytic Framework, Descriptive Findings, and Measurement Issues," Paper prepared for the Workshop on Measurement of and Research on Time Use, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, May 1999.
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