1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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A Critical Review of Selected Time Use Surveys

26 Jul 2007

This paper presents the results of a study of surveys undertaken in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua (in Latin America); Bangladesh, India and the Republic of Korea (in Asia); and Chad, Mali, Tanzania and South Africa (in sub-Saharan Africa).

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.

The country case studies are preceded by a brief discussion of key concepts and issues to assist readers in understanding the significance of particular characteristics of the surveys highlighted later in the paper. The surveys conducted in developing countries over recent years have drawn heavily on other—mainly developed—countries’ experience of conducting surveys. Although this is reflected in the discussion, the paper focuses on those aspects of most relevance for developing countries.

After presenting the country case studies, the paper suggests which countries could be included in the second phase of the UNRISD research project, possible areas of investigation for this phase, and some general recommendations in respect of future time use surveys in developing countries.

Debbie Budlender is a Research Specialist with the Community Agency for Social Enquiry,
Cape Town, South Africa.

Order PP-GD-2 from UNRISD, 58 pages, 2007; US$ 12 for readers in industrialized countries and US$ 6 for readers in developing and transitional countries and for students.