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February 2002, Vol. 125, No. 2
Measuring time use in households with more than one personAnne E. Winkler
In an effort to measure time spent on unpaid activities such as commuting, performing housework, and spending time with one’s children, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is designing the Government’s first national time-use survey.1 A large number of countries, including Australia and Canada, also have national surveys underway. A recent publication of the National Research Council makes a convincing argument that Government time-use surveys should be designed with an eye toward finding out about how nonmarket time is allocated in households with more than one person—that is, how domestic partners divide the time they spend on tasks such as housework and child care.2 As just one example, time-use data are needed on both partners to fully assess the challenges faced by workers in dual-earner families as they seek to balance the competing demands of paid work and family.3 Indeed, argues Timothy M. Smeeding, "time use data may be as important as income, consumption, and wealth data for informing public policy."4
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1 See Linda L. Stinson, "Measuring how people spend their time: a time-use survey design," Monthly Labor Review, August 1999, pp. 12–19; Mary Joyce and Jay Stewart, "What can we learn from time-use data?" Monthly Labor Review, August 1999, pp. 3–6; Michael Horrigan and Diane Herz, "A Study in the Process of Planning and Designing a Survey Program: The Case of Time-Use Surveys at the BLS" (Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 1999); and National Research Council (Michele Ver Ploeg, Joseph Altonji, Norman Bradburn, Julie DaVanzo, William Nordhaus, and Francisco Samaniego, eds.), Time-Use Measurement and Research: Report of a Workshop (Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 2000), chapter 6.
2 National Research Council, Time-Use Measurement and Research, chapter 5.
3 These and many other uses are described in National Research Council, Time-Use Measurement and Research, chapters 1 and 5.
4 Timothy M. Smeeding, "Time and Public Policy: Why Do We Care and What Instruments are Needed?" paper presented at the Conference on Time Use, Non-Market Work and Family Well-Being, Washington, DC, November 20–21, 1997.
Related BLS programs
American Time Use Survey
Related Monthly Labor Review articles
What can we learn from time-use data?—Aug. 1999.
Notes on time use.—Aug. 1999.
Measuring how people spend their time: a time-use survey design.—Aug. 1999.
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