Time Use Across the World: Findings of a World Compilation of Time Use Surveys

By Jacques Charmes

This paper is based on 102 time use surveys carried out in 65 countries. Reports of the surveys were mostly found on the websites of national statistical agencies or other official institutions. Access to micro-data was not necessary.
Survey data have been gathered in a single database and used for in-depth comparative analysis. Such a compilation did not take care of the fact that age groups differ from country to country, but only retained the surveys for analysis based on: a) use of a diary as a survey instrument, or the record of all activities performed during a 24-hour day (with the exception of Latin American countries where none used a diary), b) a sufficiently detailed classification of activities (these first two criteria excluded all living standards surveys) and c) national level coverage (with a few exceptions, such as China, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Panama).
One of the major difficulties of the exercise was the precise identification of certain groups of activities, because there is still much progress needed in harmonization of classifications. The compilation provides interesting regional and subregional profiles, with a gender perspective, for two major categories (paid and unpaid work) as well as for learning, social life and leisure, personal care and maintenance. For a few countries, especially those using the new International Classification for Time-Use Statistics (ICATUS), more detailed information is made available on informal and formal work time, or time dedicated to water and firewood fetching.