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Overview of the time use of Canadians 2005

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Glossary of terms


Information on each of the respondent's activities during a 24-hour period were collected. The diary day began at 4:00 a.m. and ended at 4:00 a.m. the following day. Only the primary activity was identified for any period during the day. The only exception to this was for child care. The respondent was also asked to identify all of the time periods during the diary day when they were also taking care of their children.

Average time

Activities are averaged for a 24-hour day, over a 7-day week. For activities like paid work which are normally considered over a 5-day period, a simple conversion will reconstruct activities to a 5-day average. Multiply the daily average by 7 for a weekly average and divide by 5. For example, a paid workday of 5.7 hours (averaged over 7 days) will convert to an 8.0 hour day (averaged over 5 days).

Average time spent

Average time (in hours) obtained when the estimated total daily time spent per day on the activity is divided by the estimated total number of persons in a given population.

Average time spent per participant

Average time (in hours) obtained when the estimated total daily time spent per day on the activity is divided by the estimated total number of persons who reported at least one occurrence of that activity on their diary.

Diary day

A diary day is a continuous 24-hour period commencing at 4:00 a.m. for which respondents reported their activities.

Free time or leisure time comprises the residual of the 24-hour day, time that is not allocated to either paid work, unpaid work, or personal care. It is time over which individuals have the most discretion. Leisure was classified into three components: socializing (in homes, restaurants, bars, etc.), passive leisure (primarily at home: television, reading and listening to music) and active leisure (predominantly out of home: attending and participating in entertainment/sports events).

Paid work and related activities include all functions directed toward market activity including commuting to and from work, and other related activities including looking for employment.

Personal care includes three main activities: sleep (night or essential sleep), meals (excluding those at restaurants or with people from outside the household), and other personal care (washing, dressing, relaxing, naps).

Role groups have been defined to represent the more prevalent situations in which people find themselves over the life cycle. The groups are based on age, sex, employment status, marriage/living arrangements, and parenthood. These are factors that have a major impact on lifestyle.

Student refers to persons whose main activity the previous week was going to school, whether or not they also worked for pay.

Employed full-time refers to persons whose main activity was not "going to school" and who were employed fulltime (30 or more hours per week).

Employed part-time refers to persons whose main activity was not "going to school" and who were employed part-time (fewer than 30 hours per week).

Married refers to married or cohabiting persons.

Unmarried refers to never-married, divorced, separated or widowed persons who were not cohabiting. Those with children are referred to as lone parents .

Parent refers to respondents with any never-married children aged less than 19 living with them.

Total work is an aggregate of both market and non-market activity. It is composed of three subgroups: paid work, unpaid work and education and related activities.

The total work concept should be used with caution. Many time use experts argue that due to collection problems, paid work and unpaid work are incompatible concepts and should not be aggregated. Part of household management, emotional work and secondary child care are missing from unpaid work, creating an under-measure. In contrast, all time spent at paid work is counted as work. Unlike unpaid work, coffee breaks and other activities such as socializing or down time are included. The total work estimate may be upwardly biased. Thus a comparison of the "total work" burden between role groups will also be upwardly biased in favour of individuals who spend more time at paid work.

Unpaid work includes all work directed toward non-market oriented activity. It comprises household work and related activities (including shopping and child care), as well as social support, civic and voluntary activities.

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Date modified: 2006-07-12 Important Notices