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4153.0 - How Australians Use Their Time, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/12/1998   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

This publication presents a summary of results from the 1997 Time Use Survey. Comparisons are also made with the 1992 Time Use Survey to identify changes in time use over the five years between the two surveys.

The activities on which people spend their time can be divided into four main categories or types of time use (Aas 1982) Aas D, 1982, 'Designs for Large Scale Time Use Studies of the 24 Hour Day', in Z. Staikov (ed), It's About Time: Proceedings of the International Research Group on Time Budgets and Social Activities, Sofia, Bulgaria, pp. 17-53. Necessary time describes activities which are performed for personal survival, such as sleeping, eating and personal hygiene. Contracted time describes activities such as paid work and regular education where there are explicit contracts which control the periods of time in which the activities are performed. Committed time describes activities to which a person has committed him/herself because of previous social or community interactions, such as setting up a household or performing voluntary work. The consequent housework, child care, shopping or provision of help to others are all examples of committed time activities. Free time is the amount of time left when the previous three types of time have been taken out of a person's day.

The amount of time that people spend in paid work, education and various necessary activities has an impact on the amount of time available for household tasks and free time activities. While about one-third of the day is spent on sleeping, how people spend the rest of their day is related to their family type, employment status and gender.

Comparison of the four types of time


In 1997, Australians spent an average of 46% of their time on necessary time activities, 22% on free time activities, 16% on committed time activities and 15% on contracted time activities. The time spent by men and women was similar for necessary time activities and free time activities. Men spent almost twice as much time, on average, as women on contracted time activities (19% compared with 11%), while women spent nearly twice as much time as men on committed time activities (21% compared with 12%) (table 1).

At the broad level of people's time use, there has been little change between 1992 and 1997. Changes observed in the figures for necessary and free time are mainly due to changes in coding (see discussion of socialising on pages 10-11 of the publication). Some changes are apparent when examining individual categories of time use and when comparing different people within categories.

Men and women spend their day in different ways. On an average day in 1997, men spent 20% of their day on recreation and leisure, 18% in employment related activities and 7% on domestic work, while women spent 18% of their day on recreation and leisure, 13% on domestic work, 9% on employment related and 3% on child care (table 1).

Necessary time

Necessary time is the time devoted to personal care activities such as sleeping, eating and personal hygiene. Both men and women spent, on average, about half of their day on personal care activities (46% and 47% respectively) in 1997 (table 9). More time was spent on personal care activities compared with 1992. There was an increase in the amount of time spent sleeping (17 minutes or 3%) (table 1). There was also an increase of 28 minutes per day in the amount of time spent eating and drinking between 1992 and 1997, but this is due to coding changes (see discussion of socialising on pages 10-11 of the full publication).

Overall, 53% of households purchased at least one meal at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to the survey, while 57% purchased at least one takeaway meal. Of households containing couples with non-dependent children, 63% had purchased at least one meal at a restaurant compared with 47% of lone parents. Of households containing couples with dependent children, 76% had bought at least one takeaway meal compared with only 40% of lone persons. Those who spent time eating and drinking in commercial venues spent an average 66 minutes per day in these locations and couples with dependent children were most likely to spend time eating in these locations (see table below).

HOUSEHOLDS PURCHASING MEALS AND TIME SPENT IN COMMERCIAL VENUES

Time spent
Number of
eating
persons eating
and drinking in
and drinking
commercial
in commercial
Restaurant
Takeaway
Total
venues
venues
Life stage
%
%
'000
min/d
'000

Couples with dependent
children(a)
53.7
75.8
1,612.2
67
2,406.9
Couples with
non-dependent children
62.6
65.5
751.2
76
447.2
Lone parents
46.8
63.9
631.6
55
387.2
Couples without children
50.8
43.4
1,650.2
73
1,959.1
Lone persons
48.4
39.9
1652.2
71
942.3
Other
62.3
70.8
636.3
64
1487.1
Total
52.9
56.9
6933.7
66
7629.7

(a) Couples with dependent children include households containing both children aged 0-14 and unmarried children aged 15 and over.


CONTRACTED TIME


Employment related activities

The time spent by employed persons on employment related activities in 1997 was similar to the time spent on these activities in 1992. The time spent working in their main job increased by 10 minutes a day while time spent in other jobs decreased by 30 minutes (table 2). In 1997, men in the 35-44 years age group spent the most time on employment related activities, at around 9 hours a day, while men aged age 65 years and over who were in paid work spent 5 hours and 45 minutes per day on these activities. Women in the 25-34 and 45-54 year age groups, who were in paid work, spent around 7 hours and 30 minutes on employment related activities, and women aged 65 years and over spent 4 hours and 25 minutes on these activities (table 30).

Educational activities

Time spent by students on educational activities decreased by 12 minutes (4%) between 1992 and 1997. However, female students increased their time by 16 minutes while male students reduced their time by 40 minutes. Time spent on homework and study increased for both men and women by 5 and 23 minutes respectively (table 2). The overall time spent on educational activities was similar for men and women. However, the time spent by the different age groups differed, especially in the 45-54 age group, with men spending 2 hours and 30 minutes more on these activities than women in 1997 (table 30).


COMMITTED TIME


Child care

The overall time spent on all child care activities did not change over the 5 years. However, less time was given to direct care of children (16 minutes less) but more to all other child care activities, especially for playing, reading and talking, which increased by 11 minutes. The participation rate for the care of children and for playing, reading and talking declined almost 3 percentage points between 1992 and 1997. Women continued to do most of the direct care, with men spending more time in other areas such as teaching and playing with children (tables 2 and 3). Men and women spent more time in 1997 playing with children, especially on weekends (20 minutes more per day for men and 11 minutes more for women) than in 1992. Men also spent more time on teaching and helping their children (8 minutes more on weekdays, 18 minutes more on weekend days) than in 1992 (table 7).


FREE TIME


Watching Television

On average, 4 out of every 5 minutes spent on passive leisure involved audio visual media. Television viewing and listening to the radio/CDs accounted for over 90% of this (table 20). Most television viewing occurred between 6 pm and 10 pm. Peak viewing times were 8 pm for 15-24 year olds and those aged 60 years and over, and 9 pm for those aged 25-59 years. A relatively high proportion of persons aged 60 years and over watched television during the afternoon (table 24).

Proportion of people who watched Television, Age Groups




1 MAIN ACTIVITIES(a), ALL PERSONS

19921997
Purpose of activitiesMalesFemalesPersonsMalesFemalesPersons


Personal care(c)
618
626
622
658
671
665
Sleeping
499
499
499
517
515
516
Sleeplessness
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
1
1
1
Personal hygiene
47
53
50
43
51
47
Health care
6
8
7
6
7
7
Eating and drinking(d)
64
64
64
91
95
93
Associated travel
0
0
0
0
0
0
Other
1
1
1
1
1
1

Employment related
268
126
196
261
132
196
Main job
225
106
165
226
113
169
Other job
3
1
2
2
1
1
Unpaid work in a family business or farm
1
1
1
1
1
1
Work breaks(e)
11
5
8
0
0
0
Job search
2
1
1
2
1
1
Associated travel
24
11
18
26
14
20
Other
2
1
1
4
2
3

Education
32
28
30
24
28
26
Attendance at educational courses (excluding job
related training)
15
12
14
11
12
11
Job related training
2
0
1
*1
*1
1
Homework/study/research
10
10
10
9
11
10
Breaks at place of education(e)
2
1
2
0
0
0
Associated travel
4
3
3
3
3
3
Other
0
0
0
1
1
1

Domestic activities
97
182
140
97
180
139
Total housework
37
147
93
40
139
90
Food and drink preparation/cleanup
24
71
48
26
69
48
Laundry and clothes care
4
34
19
5
33
19
Housework
9
42
26
9
37
23
Total other household work
54
31
42
50
36
43
Grounds and animal care(f)
30
22
26
27
23
25
Home maintenance
20
4
12
17
4
10
Household management
3
4
4
7
9
8
Associated travel
4
2
3
3
2
3
Other
3
2
2
4
3
3

Child care
14
49
32
16
45
31
Care of children
6
30
18
4
21
13
Teaching/helping/reprimanding
1
2
1
1
1
1
Playing/reading/talking with child
4
7
6
5
6
5
Minding child
1
3
2
3
5
4
Visiting child care establishment/school
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
0
1
1
Associated travel
2
6
4
2
7
5
Other
0
1
0
2
4
3
Purchasing goods and services
34
55
45
35
54
45
Purchasing goods
17
30
23
16
27
22
Purchasing services
4
7
5
4
6
5
Associated travel
13
18
15
13
18
16
Other
1
1
1
2
2
2

Voluntary work and care
20
20
20
19
24
22
Support for adults
9
8
9
9
13
11
Unpaid voluntary work
4
5
5
5
7
6
Associated travel
6
6
6
4
4
4
Other
0
1
1
1
1
1

Social and community interaction(c)
103
120
111
42
47
45
Socialising(d)
70
84
77
11
11
11
Visiting entertainment and cultural venues
4
5
4
5
6
5
Attendance at sports events
3
2
2
2
1
2
Religious activities/ritual ceremonies
5
6
6
4
5
5
Community participation
5
6
5
7
9
8
Negative social activities
0
0
0
n.p.
n.p.
0
Associated travel
16
17
16
12
13
13
Other
0
0
0
1
1
1

Recreation and leisure
252
233
242
283
254
268
Sport and outdoor activity
38
24
31
33
20
27
Games/hobbies/arts/crafts
11
17
14
18
15
17
Reading
23
23
23
24
26
25
Audio/visual media(d)
126
100
113
143
118
130
Attendance at recreational courses
1
1
1
1
1
1
Other free time
34
40
37
23
20
21
Talking (including phone)(d)
11
21
16
27
44
35
Writing/reading own correspondence
2
3
2
1
2
1
Associated travel
6
4
5
11
7
9
Other
0
0
0
2
1
1
Undescribed
2
2
2
5
5
5
Total
1,440
1,440
1,440
1,440
1,440
1,440

(a) Units are average time shown in minutes per day.
(b) Any differences between the 1992 data in this table and the data
published in How Australians Use Their Time, 1992 (Cat. no. 4153.0) are due to changes to the classification and minor amendments to the data file.
(c) Differences between the 1992 and 1997 data are partly due to coding changes rather than actual changes in time use.
(d) Differences between the 1992 and 1997 data are mainly due to coding changes rather than actual changes in time use. See section on Socialising, pp. 10-11 in the publication.


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