Publications by CTUR Members
This paper is a narrative review examining the history of time use research, and the potential uses of TU data for public health research. The history of TUR started in studies of the labour force and patterns of work in the late 19th and early twentieth century, but has more recently been applied to examining health issues. Initial studies had a more economic purpose but over recent decades, TU data have been used to describe the distribution and correlates of health-enhancing patterns of human time use. These studies require large multi-country population data sets, such as the harmonised Multinational Time Use Study hosted at the University of Oxford. TU data are used in physical activity research, as they provide information across the 24-h day, that can be examined as time spent sleeping, sitting/standing/light activity, and time spent in moderate-vigorous activities. TU data are also used for sleep research, examining eating and dietary patterns, exploring geographic distributions in time use behaviours, examining mental health and subjective wellbeing, and examining these data over time. The key methodological challenge has been the development of harmonised methods, so population TU data sets can be compared within and between-countries and over time.
Over the last 150 years, advanced economies have seen the burden of disease shift to non-communicable diseases. The risk factors for these diseases are often co-morbidities associated with unhealthy weight. The prevalence of overweight/obesity among adults in the advanced countries of the English-speaking world is currently more than two-thirds of the adult population. However, while much attention has concentrated on changes in diet that might have provoked this rapid increase in unhealthy weight, changes in patterns of eating have received little attention.
Juana Lamote de Grignon Pérez, Jonathan Gershuny, Russell Foster, Maarten De Vos, Journal of Sleep Research, 2018 September 10 : e12753 DOI: 10.1111/jsr.12753
It is often stated that sleep deprivation is on the rise, with work suggested as a main cause. However, the evidence for increasing sleep deprivation comes from surveys using habitual sleep questions. An alternative source of information regarding sleep behaviour is time-use studies. This paper investigates changes in sleep time in the UK using the two British time-use studies that allow measuring "time in bed not asleep" separately from "actual sleep time". Based upon the studies presented here, people in the UK sleep today 43 min more than they did in the 1970s because they go to bed earlier (~30 min) and they wake up later (~15 min). The change in sleep duration is driven by night sleep and it is homogeneously distributed across the week. The former results apply to men and women alike, and to individuals of all ages and employment status, including employed individuals, the presumed major victims of the sleep deprivation epidemic and the 24/7 society. In fact, employed individuals have experienced a reduction in short sleeping of almost 4 percentage points, from 14.9% to 11.0%. There has also been a reduction of 15 percentage points in the amount of conflict between workers work time and their sleep time, as measured by the proportion of workers that do some work within their "ideal sleep window" (as defined by their own chronotype).
Recently much attention has been focused on whether the gender transformation of paid and unpaid work in society referred to as the gender revolution has hit a wall, or at least stalled. In this article, we discuss key trends in the gender division of labor across 13 developed countries over a 50-year period. These trends show little decisive evidence for a stall but rather a continuing, if uneven, long-term trend in the direction of greater gender equality. We set out a theoretical framework for understanding slow change in the division of unpaid work and care (lagged generational change). We argue that, through a long-term view of the processes of change, this framework can help address why progress in the convergence in paid and unpaid work promised by the gender revolution has been so slow.
Using time diary evidence on change in the frequency and distribution of activities from UK time diary data over the 15 years from the turn of the 21st century, we assess whether the thesis of the speed-up society' is manifested in an increase in time intensity in people's daily lives. Comparing indictors like time fragmentation, multitasking and ICT use, to respondents' reports of how rushed they normally feel, we find no evidence that time pressure is increasing, or that ICT use is associated with greater feelings of time pressure. Rather, we find consistent cross-sectional differentials in our measures of time intensity by gender and occupational status, supporting the idea of relative stasis in the underlying social inequalities of time. These findings are consistent with previous research based on time use data, and we pose them as a challenge to theories of societal speed-up.
Traditionally, time-use data have been used to inform a broad range of economic and sociological research topics. One of the new areas in time-use research is the study of physical activity (PA) and physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE). Time-use data can be used to study PAEE by assigning MET values to daily activities using the Ainsworth Compendium of Physical Activities. Although most diarists record their daily activities accurately and in detail, they are only required to record their paid working hours, not the job-specific tasks they undertake. This makes it difficult to assign MET values to paid work episodes.
In this methodological paper, we explain how we addressed this problem by using the detailed information about respondents' occupational status included in time-use survey household and individual questionnaires. We used the 2008 ISCO manual, a lexicon of the International Labour Organization of occupational titles and their related job-specific tasks. We first assigned a MET value to job-specific tasks using the Ainsworth compendium (2011) then calculated MET values for each of the 436 occupations in the ISCO-08 manual by averaging all job-specific MET values for each occupation.
Based on her analysis of published tables from US homemakers' 1924-32 week-long time use diaries collected by the US Department of Agriculture, Vanek (1974) concluded that housework time had not declined over the previous half-century-despite the diffusion of many "time-saving" home technologies. Although frequently challenged, this claim still survives in parts of the sociological literature; we use newly available evidence to refute it. Analysis of the original USDA diaries (many of which have now been recovered from the US National Archives), alongside more recent diary microdata from the American Heritage Time Use Study, reveals a pair of clear and contrary trends: a continuing decline in women's core housework (cooking and cleaning), partially offset by an increase of time in childcare and shopping. Names and addresses attached to the original diaries allow the identification of more than 93 percent of the USDA diarists in one or both of the 1920 and 1930 US Federal Censuses. Analysis (Oaxaca decomposition) of the household-and individual-level information from this source shows that most of the historical time shifts result not from changes in family demography or women's growing attachment to paid work over this period but from "behavioral" change, reflecting in part the spread of labor-saving domestic technology.
We bring a novel, longitudinal, perspective to an ongoing series of influential papers that investigates the relationship between housework, marital bargaining, and spousal resources. For the first time, we believe, in this long debate, we combine a longitudinal perspective with a measure of resources-human capital-that provides an indicator of the likely economic bargaining power of the non-employed, thereby enabling their inclusion in analysis. We use longitudinal fixed-effects models to address the relationship between housework hours and spousal resources based on yearly couples' data from the nationally representative British Household Panel Study (N = 6,541 couples). Using the measure of human capital, we find change in wives' own human capital to be the most important factor determining housework for both spouses, and no evidence for gender deviance neutralization. We conclude it is women's resources that are the critical determining factor in bargaining over housework.
CTUR commissioned the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to administer the survey. We initially sampled 10,960 private households. In the main period of data collection, over 7,600 people in over 4,000 households returned at least one completed diary. Experience on the doorstep showed that selling the survey as research into everyday life to find out what activities most contribute to people’s wellbeing proved more effective than other approaches. Initial review of the returns so far indicate that the survey has collected high quality data. Three features of the UK diary instrument offer new research opportunities currently not widely available in the time use field: allowing participants to record multiple secondary activities; including a tick-box for events which involved the use of a smart device; and collection of enjoyment ratings alongside each event. Our experience collecting these features raises questions for how this field handles some dimensions of capturing activities.
As daily life data offers an essential dimension to a vast range of research topics, time use surveys offer better value for money than most surveys considering the potential uses for the money expended on data collection. To achieve this value for money, however, researchers need to use the data. Even now, few universities offer training in the analysis of time use data. Making access to customised data subsets ready for analysis quickly matters to the success and continued expansion of this field. The IPUMS Time Use data extract builder suite is one tool delivering essential data resources to time use researchers. This timepiece details the release of the latest project in this collection of archives, the American Heritage Time Use Study Data Extract Builder (AHTUS-X). As with all archives, continued funding for this project depends on people using the resource. If you have an interest in time use patterns in the USA, you both access essential data and contribute to the long-term preservation of this collection of documented historical change by visiting and making extracts from www.ahtusdata.org.