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ISER Working Paper Series 2003-03

Time, through the lifecourse, in the family


Publication date

01 Feb 2003


This paper discusses the way that individuals' time budgets are influenced by changes in their family status and circumstances. We sometimes associate life course changes in time use patterns, in an unconsidered manner, with chronological ageing. But is it really age itself, or the changing material (particularly family) circumstances associated with ageing, that cause these changes? The ideal approach to answering this question would be a household panel study large enough to provide sufficient instances of the various relevant changes in material circumstances, to model their temporal consequences. However the only available time-diary panel study is too small for this purpose. So this study 'fuses' the time diary evidence with evidence from a much larger and long-running national household panel study, using a number of questionnaire items highly correlated with time allocation, and present in both data sets. It uses the combined data set to show how time use is affected by changes in family statuses through the life course. It demonstrates in particular that successive stages in the 'family cycle' have strong effects in increasing gendered specialisation in the distribution of paid and unpaid work.


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