Everything we do is located in time. So time use information potentially provides a comprehensive view of the conduct of daily life. If we get this information from sample surveys representative of a whole population, we have a picture of everything that the society does. Such surveys, collecting complete detailed diaries, lasting at least a day, sometimes a week, from random samples of adult populations, have been carried out in at least 76 countries and are a growing focus of academic and policy interest.

The Centre for Time Use Research provides advice to various non-academic bodies; carries out research on historical change and comparisons between countries; and provides access to a range of time-use datasets, harmonised and free of charge to the research community.

Such surveys allow researchers to calculate how much time populations or groups devote to the various activities of daily life eg paid work, unpaid work, travel, eating, leisure, sleep. Applications include employment, the gender distribution of unpaid work, trip purposes, exercise patterns, child and elder care, environmental stress, patterns of sociability.

The Centre aims to enhance time use research resources and techniques and to carry out substantive research.

Enhancing Time Use resources

The Centre produces and maintains the Multinational Time Use Study (external website), which currently includes more than half a million days of time diary materials from the 1960s to the present and spanning more than 30 countries, as well as web-based time use information resources of unparalleled scope. Funding from an ESRC large grant will allow for the upgrade of the existing database, incorporating many new surveys, improving data collection techniques, and experimenting with new data collection technologies.

Enhancing Time Use research

The Centre is developing innovative research methods, particularly in activity-sequence analysis, developing deductive approaches to complement the inductive methods more usual in this field. It is using these new techniques to investigate historical changes and national differences in timings of activities through the day, and changes and differences in co-presence of partner and parent-child pairs.

Substantive Research Projects

The Centre is also working on a number of substantive research projects including:

This research examines historical trends in the domestic division of labour, including studies of unpaid care activities within and beyond the household. The Centre's improved monitoring of historical change of work stresses is expected to lead to a clearer understanding of the changing work/leisure balance in the developed world.