Counting the hours: The challenges of measuring time use
This blog by the CGIAR’s research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) discusses the challenges associated with collecting time-use data in developing countries. Data from Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) surveys in Bangladesh and Uganda are used to compare the most commonly used methods of data collection to measure time: stylized survey questions and time diaries. Stylized questions focus on a specific activity, asking respondents how much time they spent on that activity over a given period. In comparison, time diaries ask respondents to recall all their activities within a given period, such as the last 24 hours. The authors found that the two methods can provide equally accurate answers and take about the same amount of time to administer. Respondents often found stylized question more difficult to answer because they had to recall activities over a longer period. Most time use research focuses on how much time was spent on an activity. However, the authors suggest that future research should develop stronger methods to measure both the quantity and quality of time to better understand how time use impacts well-being. Careful documentation and comparison of these approaches will help to advance the multidimensional measurement of time, in order to identify what time constraints contribute most to gender inequality, and what policies and interventions can be implemented to relieve those constraints.
This blog highlights the paper “Measuring time use in development settings” (PDF). This paper is part of three methodological working papers released by The World Bank, which discuss the challenges of measuring key areas of women’s empowerment.