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What you should know about this study

This study looks at the situation of workers who live with a spouse or child.  It does not include workers who live alone or with other individuals, for whom time spent with family may mean something different.

The workers are individuals whose main activity, in the 7 days preceding the day of the interview for the General Social Survey (GSS) on time use, were working at a job.  Only those respondents who had worked at least 3 hours during the reference day, not including commuting time, are included in the analysis.  The purpose is to avoid confusing those workers who were on leave, who were far more likely to spend long hours with family members, with those who had worked during the reference day.  In addition, because the study is interested in the connection between hours worked and time spent with family, it was important to consider only those workers who, on the day for which they were asked to provide details of all their activities, had worked a minimum amount of time.

The analysis included only the number of minutes that were spent with family members, friends or alone outside working hours.  A number of workers spend time alone at work, and this time is not to be confused with the time available outside working hours.

Time spent with family means the total time during which the workers, while engaged in various activities (other than their work or personal care, including sleep), were in the presence of their spouse, child or other family members.  For purposes of comparison among the four GSS cycles, unpaid work done for a family business or farm was not considered work time.  Also, because the information gathered differed slightly over the four cycles of the GSS on time use, it was impossible to compare the data for certain more specific categories (such as changes in the time respondents spent with their children generally, including the youngest, the oldest and those living or not living at home).

The results shown in the table incorporated into the text are taken from an ordinary least squares regression.  This statistical analysis simultaneously takes into account the various factors that influence time spent with family.  Thus, the results show the association of a given variable, such as family status, independent of the influence of any other factors considered in the analysis (time spent at work, watching television, and so on).

The decomposition analysis uses the Oaxaca-Blinder approach.  Thus, two additional regression analyses were done: one for 1986, and one for 2005.  As the attempt was to determine how the situation would have evolved between 1986 and 2005 had the characteristics of the 2005 workers been identical to those of the 1986 workers, time spent with family was weighted using the 2005 regression coefficients.  Using the reverse procedure, i.e., the 1986 regression coefficients to weight the changes in time spent with family, the study’s qualitative findings remained the same.  It is worth noting that in both models used for the decomposition analysis, time spent involved in various activities, such as paid work, was treated as a continuum (and not in categories, as in the models shown in the text).  The purpose here was to simplify the interpretation of the results.  A decomposition analysis was done with the duration variables classified into categories, but the main qualitative findings of the study remained the same.

In this study, the different factors associated with time spent with family were quantified.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to determine whether the average “quality time” spent with family members followed a similar trend.  In this study, we can only report that the average time workers spent with family, whether considered quality time or not, declined between 1986 and 2005.

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Date modified: 2008-11-21 Important Notices