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Conference Paper Cabinet Office, Strategy Unit Lunchtime Seminar

Uses of Time Diary Surveys

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Publication date

28 Nov 2003

Abstract

The atomic particle, in the social world, is the activity. An activity is an event or episode, with a finite duration, that has an explicit meaning or purpose; and these meanings and purposes are readily understandable by other people in our own or similar societies. We wash dishes, we travel to work, we watch a television programme: these are activities. It is the sequence of these activities, through the day, through the week, that constitutes our 'time budgets'. In this seminar I will suggest that it is possible to use appropriately constructed samples of narratives of our activity sequences through our days - samples known as time-diary or time budget surveys - as the basis for the construction of a peculiarly comprehensive form of socioeconomic accounts. For more than a century, expenditure diary samples have been a key tool for empirical economists. My contention is that time diary samples are potentially of similar importance.

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