Measuring Housework Participation: the gap between ‘stylised’ questionnaire estimates and diary-based estimates

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



Working Paper


Publication date

April 6, 2006


Research on the domestic division of labour has used different measures of housework participation of men and women. 'Stylised' estimates of housework time were commonly used in past studies. These estimates were collected by survey questionnaires, where respondents were asked to report the approximate hours they usually spent on housework in a week, or who usually in the family was responsible for a particular household task. On the other hand, some studies have estimated housework time using time diary data. Although it is well established that diary-based estimates of housework time are more accurate than 'stylised' questionnaire estimates, they are usually unavailable in large-scale national studies. Very few studies, however, have compared these two main types of housework time estimates and have investigated whether they might yield different findings on the domestic division of labour. This paper, therefore, aims to examine the gap between 'stylised' questionnaire estimates and diary-based estimates of housework time. It will use data from the Home-on-Line Study, a British panel study conducted between 1999 and 2001 that collected time use data by both questionnaires and time diaries. In particular, it will explore whether the gap between the two types of estimates will be influenced by the respondent's gender, family values, and relative economic dependency (which were found to be significant predictors of housework participation in past studies). The implications of using different measures of housework participation for the study of the domestic division of labour will be discussed in the light of the findings.

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