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Overview of the time use of Canadians 2005

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The target population for the GSS was all persons 15 years of age and over residing in Canada, excluding:

1. Residents of the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories;

2. Full-time residents of institutions.

In the survey, all respondents were contacted and interviewed by land-line (non-cellular) telephone. Households without land-line telephones were therefore excluded; in 2005, persons living in such households represented less than 5% of the target population. Survey estimates have been adjusted (i.e., weighted) to account for persons without telephones.

Data for Cycle 19 of the GSS were collected in 11 monthly samples from January to November 2005 with data collection for the November sample extending until mid-December. The sample was evenly distributed over the 11 months and was selected using the Elimination of Non-Working Banks technique of Random Digit Dialling (RDD). Since people's activities differ by the day of the week, a sample that was representative of each day of the week was required. Each telephone number was therefore assigned a "designated day".

Cases were eligible for collection for 2 days following the designated day. The response rate for Cycle 19 was 58.6%. This was based on the 19,597 respondents for whom usable diary information was obtained.

Data Limitations

The figures which appear in this report are estimates based on data collected from a small fraction of the population (roughly one person in 1,300 ) and are subject to error. The error can be divided into two components: sampling error and non-sampling error.

Sampling error is the difference between an estimate derived from the sample and the one that would have been obtained from a census that used the same procedures to collect data from every person in the population. The size of the sampling error can be estimated from the survey results and an indication of the magnitude of this error is given for the estimates in this report. If the estimated sampling error is greater than 33% of the estimate, it is considered too unreliable to publish and the symbol 'F' is printed in table cells where this occurs. Although not considered too unreliable to publish, estimates with an estimated error between 16.6% and 33.3% of the related estimate should be "qualified" and used with caution. These are identified with an 'E'.

All other types of errors, such as coverage, response, processing, and non-response, are non-sampling errors. Many of these errors are difficult to identify and quantify.

Coverage errors arise when there are differences between the target population and the surveyed population. Households without telephones represent a part of the target population that was excluded from the surveyed population. To the extent that this excluded population differs from the rest of the target population, the estimates will be biased. Since these exclusions are small, one would expect the biases introduced to be small. However, since there are correlations between a number of questions asked on this survey and the groups excluded, the biases may be more significant than the small size of the groups would suggest.

Individuals residing in institutions were excluded from the surveyed population. The effect of this exclusion is greatest for people aged 65 and over, for whom the proportion excluded is around 7% .

To the extent that the non-responding households and persons differ from the rest of the sample, the estimates will be biased. The overall response rate for the survey was 58.6% . Non-response could occur at several stages in this survey. There were two stages of information collection: at the household level and at the individual level. As such, some non-response occurred at the household level, some at the individual level. Non-response also occurs at the level of individual questions.

For most questions, the response rate was high, with non-response indicated in the data files. While refusal to answer specific questions was very low, accuracy of recall and ability to answer some questions completely can be expected to affect some of the results presented. Criteria for accepting a time use diary were stringent, requiring the reporting of information about at least 20 of the 24 hours. Time use episodes for which activity details were refused or not stated are shown as "Residual" time.

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Date modified: 2006-07-12 Important Notices