A Critical Review of Selected Time Use Surveys

This paper was prepared as part of the preparatory phase for the UNRISD research project on Political and Social Economy of Care. The overall aim of the project is to examine the way in which care is provided and allocated between the family/household, state, market and “community”, and its articulation with the commodity economy in different countries.

The main purpose of this paper is to critically review selected time use surveys conducted in countries from different regions of the world, in order to assess their quality. An additional purpose is to inform the design of the qualitative research to be undertaken by the project.

The paper focuses on the following seven issues in reviewing the country experiences:

assessing the design of the survey;
delineating the scope of the survey and the information it contains;
assessing the quality of the data obtained, with particular attention to data available on unpaid care work;
identifying weaknesses in the data and survey design, especially with respect to unpaid care work;
identifying countries most suitable for inclusion in the second phase of the project;
identifying issues for exploration through qualitative research in the second phase of the project;
and providing some recommendations, in terms of design/methodology, scope and training for fieldworkers, for future time use surveys.