Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 467-482

First online:

Pictorial Approaches for Measuring Time Use in Rural Ethiopia

  • Yuta J. MasudaAffiliated withDaniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington
  • , Lea FortmannAffiliated withThe Ohio State University
  • , Mary Kay GugertyAffiliated withDaniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington
  • , Marla Smith-NilsonAffiliated withWater 1st International
  • , Joseph CookAffiliated withDaniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington Email author 

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Time use researchers working in least developed countries (LDCs) face difficulties collecting data from illiterate populations who may conceptualize time differently than those in industrialized countries. We identify existing gaps in time use data collection methods and discuss two novel, pictorial methods to collect time use data from these populations. The first method is a modified recall interview modeled on participatory rural appraisal (PRA) methods that asks respondents to place macaroni on pictures of activity categories in proportion to the amount of time spent on that activity during the previous day. The second is a simplified pictorial time diary that uses a timer and sequentially-numbered stickers to re-create the temporal order of activities in 30-min increments. The latter method also avoids recall bias problems. We present time use data collected in 2009 using these methods in a study examining the impacts of water infrastructure on women and children’s time use in rural Ethiopia. In total, we collected information using the first method from 263 household members over age 10, including 167 water collectors, and pilot-tested the pictorial diary approach with 10 adult respondents.


Time use Least developed countries Previous day recall Time diaries Methodology