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ISER Working Paper Series 2006-19

Infusing time diary evidence into panel data: an exercise in calibrating time-use estimates for the BHPS


Publication date

01 Apr 2006


In this paper, we calibrate a set of time use variables for a long-running panel survey
(the British Household Panel Survey, BHPS, 1994 - 2004) from evidence derived from a
smaller scale panel survey that collected time use information by both the survey method and
the diary method from the same respondents (the Home On-line Study, HoL, 1999 - 2001).
Past research has suggested that the time diary method produces more accurate and reliable
measures of time use than the survey approach. The diary approach, however, usually has a
low response rate and is not practicable for a large-scale panel study like the BHPS. On the
other hand, direct questioning in survey interviews is a relatively flexible approach to collect
time use data. We therefore propose a method to combine the strengths of the survey
approach and the diary method to produce time use data. The survey part of the HoL study
shares the same questionnaire-derived time-use predictor variables with the BHPS. We use
regression of the predictors on the time diary data in the HoL study to calibrate time use in
the BHPS by multiplying the resulting regression coefficients with the same predictor
variables in the BHPS. Then we get a calibrated index of time-use patterns based on BHPS
questionnaire items. The calibrated time use variables cover all major categories of daily
activities and are available in Wave 4 (1994) to Wave 14 (2004) of the BHPS. They are
useful resources for the study of time use practices and the life course.


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