Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 17, Issue 3–4, pp 261–280 | Cite as

The measurement of household time allocation: Data needs, analytical approaches, and standardization

  • Andrew S. Harvey
Methodological Issues in the Study of Time


Public policy designed to improve well-being or alter social behavior has too often been ineffective because of the lack of knowledge of the nature or the trends that force people to select given time allocation patterns. In the recent past, however, there has been a growing recognition of the need to research and understand the distribution of total time to improve the ability of governments to design more effective policies. This article introduces the concept of time use measurement, reviews the development of time use research, and identifies the following key considerations for its improvement. First, a standard activity coding scheme capable of handling the nuances of time use in the more developed and developing countries and across the broad range of possible subpopulations must be developed and accepted. Second, a solid integration of objective and subjective measures into time use data collection, meeting multidisciplinary needs, must be achieved. Third, a movement toward the contextual setting of activities through episodal analysis is needed, which may mean the development of new analytical procedures and technology. Finally, it is necessary to reach a consensus on desired time-based economic, social, and psychological indicators.

Key Words

household survey methodology time use allocation 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew S. Harvey
    • 1
  1. 1.Time Use Research ProgramSaint Mary's UniversityHalifaxCanada

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