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Conference Paper Cabinet Office, Strategy Unit Lunchtime Seminar

Uses of Time Diary Surveys


Publication date

28 Nov 2003


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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