The Time Use Survey studies people's use of time; it involves respondents keeping a written record of their activities in a diary during a prescribed period. The advantage of this is that it produces the most accurate picture possible of how people spend their time, and makes visible precisely those aspects of time use which usually go unnoticed, such as time spent on the household, social contacts, reading, doing voluntary work or eating and sleeping. The diaries are also indispensable for answering questions such as when people work most, and how a weekday differs from a weekend day.
SCP has played a leading role in Dutch time use research since the fieldwork round for the very first Time Use Survey in 1975. Respondents in the Survey maintain a detailed log of their activities during one week, filling in their main activity and any secondary activity each quarter of an hour. In addition, respondents are interviewed twice, once before and once after the 'diary week'. This produces valuable background information about the respondents.
The data from the Time Use Survey provide a good picture of changes that have taken place over the years in the way people in the Netherlands use their time. This makes the Survey a unique and valuable information resource. The most recent Time Use Surveys date from 2005 and 2006. In 2006, the data was collected according to the Harmonised European Time Use Survey (HETUS) guidelines replacing the original Dutch Time Use Survey design
Other countries also carry out time use research. The Centre for Time Use Research provides information on the British and American surveys, while Europe has also developed guidelines for time use research, in the form of the Harmonized European Time Use Survey (HETUS) guidelines.
Research at SCP
The Care, Emancipation and Time Use research sector carries out the time use research at SCP. Other research sectors also use the Time Use Survey data, however.