International Association for Time-Use Research Conference
September 17, 2003
Diaries are believed to offer an effective means for monitoring participation rates in regularly performed activities, but not to adequately capture participation in activities which people perform on a less frequent basis. This paper assesses the degree to which time diaries accurately estimate participation in voluntary activities. This paper first focuses on the case of Australia, comparing two national sample data sets, the 2000 Voluntary Work Survey and the 1997 Time Use Study, and contrasts these results with responses to the Australian section of the World Values Survey. The paper then draws on three comparative multinational databases, the Harmonised European Time Use Study basic activity tables, the Multinational Time Use Study, and the World Values Survey, to offer a more international perspective. Though diaries may not fully capture the participation of the people inspired to undertake voluntary endeavours only a few times a year, the profile of volunteers generated by diaries are, at least in some respects, similar to the profiles produced by surveys asking respondents about voluntary activity in the last year. Diaries also prove an effective means to determine how long various groups of people volunteer on days when they engage in such activity, and provide more reliable information on the degree of travel and communication activity primarily associated with voluntary activity. Diaries also provide a useful contrast to self-reported voluntary information based on active/inactive membership, and help inform debate over whether measurement based on 'membership' or based on 'time' is a better register of voluntary activity.