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Around the Clock – Findings from the New Zealand Time Use Survey (1998/99)

Although everyone has exactly 24 hours in every day, people allocate their time very differently. The amount of time they spend on productive work (both paid and unpaid), leisure activities and personal care varies. A society functions economically and socially because people spend time producing goods and services, either in the paid work sector, or in the unpaid sector where people provide food, shelter and care for their families, friends and communities. A time use survey illuminates the linkages and trade-offs between these different aspects of human activity. Time use surveys thus complement other social and economic statistics which often focus on one particular dimension.

The New Zealand Time Use Survey, the country's first national survey on time use, was funded by the Government through the Ministry of Women's Affairs. Statistics New Zealand, under contract to the Ministry, undertook the work of designing the survey from mid-1997. Data collection took place over the 12 months from July 1998 to June 1999. A sample of about 8,500 New Zealanders aged 12 and over completed a two-day diary. The first results were released in December 1999. Some further key results were made available in 2000.

This report aims to provide more comprehensive findings and analysis from the Time Use Survey to a wide audience. The report shows how patterns of economic and social participation vary between different groups according to sex, age, ethnicity, education, and family and economic circumstances. The first section, on economic participation, analyses the time spent on paid work and unpaid work for different groups of people. The second section, social participation, uses time use data to illustrate people's involvement with others and within the community. The report contains commentary, and easy-to-understand graphs that demonstrate specific examples of how time is used.

Time use statistics have great value in informing the government policy development process. Much public policy is concerned with the boundaries between paid and unpaid work, and these boundaries are different for women and men, and for different groups in society; for example Māori and non-Māori. This report will inform policy by providing a perspective that acknowledges the diverse patterns of people's lives.

Published 8 May 2001

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