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4172.0 - Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 2008 (Second Edition)  
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FEATURE ARTICLE 3: HOW MUCH TIME DO WE SPEND ON CULTURAL ACTIVITIES?


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Introduction

How Australians use their time

How Australians use their free time

Time spent on free time activities by participants

Time spent on selected cultural and leisure activities in free time


INTRODUCTION

The way that people choose to spend their time varies considerably. This article discusses the results of the 2006 Time Use Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and focuses on activities conducted during free time. In particular, this article looks at the types of cultural activities undertaken, how the time spent on these has changed over time and compares to other types of free time activities.

The Time Use Survey collected information about how Australians aged 15 years and over used their time. Summary results of the survey are available in How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat. no. 4153.0).

Each Time Use Survey respondent filled in a detailed diary for two days, recording what they were doing against a time line with five minute intervals. They were asked to record their main - or primary - activity as well as up to one other activity they were doing at the same time. This other activity was recorded as the secondary activity. For example, someone may have reported looking after children (primary activity) whilst listening to the radio (secondary activity).

The activities on which people spend their time can be divided into four main categories: necessary time, contracted time, committed time, and free time. Necessary time accounts for activities such as sleeping, eating and personal care. Contracted time includes paid employment and study. Committed time refers to unpaid work in the home and community, such as childcare, domestic activities and voluntary work. Free time is the amount of time left after activities in the other three categories are complete. Free time includes Social and community interaction as well as Recreation and leisure activities.

This article will focus on how Australians use their free time because it is under the heading of free time that most cultural and leisure activities appear. The cultural and leisure activities included are:

  • Sport and outdoor activities
  • Games, hobbies, arts and crafts
  • Reading
  • Audio/visual media
  • Internet
  • Visiting entertainment and cultural events
  • Attendance at sporting events.

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HOW AUSTRALIANS USE THEIR TIME

Primary activities only

In terms of primary activities, Australians spent the largest part of their day (46%) on necessary time activities such as sleeping and eating. Contracted time (including paid employment and study) took up 16% of the day. Committed time accounted for 17% of the day and included child care, domestic activities, purchasing goods and services and voluntary work and care. Free time accounted for the remaining 21% of the day.

Since 1997, the proportion of time each day spent on committed and contracted time has increased, while necessary and free time has decreased. In other words, overall we are spending less time playing, sleeping and eating and more time working.

Proportion of day spent on primary activities - 1997 and 2006
Graph: Proportion of day spent on primary activities—1997 and 2006


In 2006, men and women spent similar proportions of their day on necessary time (45% and 46% respectively) and free time activities (21% and 20% respectively), but there were distinct differences in the amount of time spent on contracted and committed time activities. Men spent a larger portion of their day on contracted time activities - mainly paid work - than women (21% and 12% respectively) while women spent a larger part of their day on committed time (unpaid work) activities than men (22% and 12% respectively). These patterns are similar to 1997 patterns.

Proportion of day spent on primary activities, Men and Women - 2006
Graph: Proportion of day spent on primary activities, Men and Women—2006


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HOW AUSTRALIANS USE THEIR FREE TIME

Primary activities only

This section looks in more detail at the primary activities undertaken in free time. That is, time not needed for necessary, contracted and committed time activities.

In 2006, most free time (85%) was spent on Recreation and leisure activities, with the remaining time spent on Social and community interactions. The most popular Recreation and leisure activity was use of Audio/visual media which includes watching TV, DVDs and videos and using the Internet, as well as listening to radio, records, CDs, tapes and other audio media. Australians spent an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes per day on these activities. This is up from 2 hours 10 minutes per day in 1997 and 1 hour and 53 minutes in 1992.

While the use of Audio/visual media had increased from earlier years, the pattern of use had changed. Between 1997 and 2006, the proportion of men and women watching television as a primary activity remained stable, but the time people spent in this way decreased by 14 minutes a day, or over an hour and a half a week. Listening to radio and CDs as a primary activity became less common (from 15% participating in 1997 to 9% in 2006 similar to 1992), with a decrease in average time as well (from 8 minutes a day in 1997 to 5 minutes a day in 2006). Between 1997 and 2006, the primary activity of using computers and the Internet for games and other free time activities increased by 15 minutes a day, or an hour and three quarters a week. This increase in time was for both men and women and across all age groups, although the greatest amount of time (almost an hour or 58 minutes a day on average) was contributed by young men aged 15-24.

The increase in time spent on Audio/visual media between 1992 and 2006 was off-set by a decrease in time spent on several other Recreation and leisure activities. For example, the amount of time spent on Sport and outdoor activity decreased from 31 minutes per day in 1992 to 19 minutes in 2006. People spent the same amount of time reading in 2006 as they did in 1992 (23 minutes per day).

Average time spent on free time activities(a), Primary activities - 2006

1992
1997(a)
2006(a)
Minutes per day
Minutes per day
Minutes per day

Social and community interaction
Socialising
77
(b)11
(b)10
Visiting entertainment and cultural venues
4
5
4
Attendance at sports events
2
2
2
Religious activities/ritual ceremonies
6
5
4
Other social and community interaction
21
22
23
Total social and community interaction
111
(b)45
(b)43
Recreation and leisure
Sport and outdoor activity
31
27
19
Games, hobbies, arts, crafts
14
17
10
Reading
23
25
23
Audio/visual media
113
130
140
Attendance at recreational courses
1
1
1
Other recreation and leisure
60
68
60
Total Recreation and leisure
242
268
253

(a) Activities have been concorded to allow comparison of data from 1992 to 1997 and 2006. Hence, 2006 data in this table will differ slightly to 2006 data in other tables in this article.
(b) Differences between the 1992, and the 1997 and 2006 data are mainly due to coding changes rather than actual changes in time use.



HOW AUSTRALIANS USE THEIR FREE TIME

Primary and secondary activities

People frequently undertake more than one activity at any given time. An example of this is eating a meal as a primary activity while watching TV as a secondary activity. Secondary activities were recorded with 41% of primary activities.

Including primary and secondary activities together generally results in a slight increase in the time spent on most activities. However, for some leisure activities there was a substantial increase. This was largely driven by the use of Audio/visual media. As a primary activity, an average of 2 hours 18 minutes was spent on Audio/visual media per day. However, when secondary activities were included, 4 hours and 21 minutes per day was spent on this activity. This means that on average people spent 2 hours and 3 minutes per day on Audio/visual media while engaged in another primary activity.

Average time spent on free time activities - 2006

Primary activities
All activities
Minutes per day
Minutes per day

Social and community interaction
Socalising
10
21
Visiting entertainment and cultural venues
5
5
Attendance at sports events
2
2
Religious activities/ritual ceremonies
5
5
Other social and community interaction
21
22
Total social and community interaction
43
55
Recreation and leisure
Sports and outdoor activity
21
22
Games, hobbies, arts, crafts
13
17
Reading
23
33
Audio/visual media
138
261
Attendance at recreational courses
1
1
Communication associated with recreation
30
103
Other recreation and leisure
27
35
Total recreation and leisure
253
472


Overall, in 2006 women spent six minutes per day longer than men on Social and community interaction activities. On average, men spent 10 minutes more than women on Recreation and leisure activities each day. The main differences were for Communication associated with recreation with females spending 28 minutes more per day then males. This was off-set by Audio/visual media where men spent 26 minutes more per day than women and Sport and outdoor activities where men spent eight minutes more per day than women. On average, women spent three minutes more per day reading than men.

Average time spent on free time activities, primary and secondary activities: by sex - 2006

Males
Females
Total
Minutes per day
Minutes per day
Minutes per day

Social and community interactions
Socialising
21
21
21
Visiting entertainment and cultural venues
4
5
5
Attendance at sports events
2
2
2
Religious activities/ritual ceremonies
4
6
5
Other social and community interaction
21
24
22
Total social and community interaction
52
58
55
Recreation and leisure
Sports and outdoor activity
26
18
22
Games, hobbies, arts, crafts
17
17
17
Reading
31
35
33
Audio/visual media
274
248
261
Recreational course
-
1
1
Communication associated with recreation
89
117
103
Other recreation and leisure
40
31
35
Total recreation and leisure
477
467
472

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)


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TIME SPENT ON FREE TIME ACTIVITIES BY PARTICIPANTS

Primary and secondary activities

Information presented so far has shown the average amount of time spent on activities by all people whether they participate in the activity or not. This section focuses on participants only.

Presenting information on participants (rather than all persons) provides an indication of the average amount of time spent per day by people who actually took part in the activity.

While around half the population (51%) undertook some form of Social and community interaction, almost everyone (99%) engaged in some form of Recreation and leisure activity. Most of the population (95%) engaged in Audio/visual media activity, almost half (44%) engaged in Reading, and one-quarter (25%) undertook Sport or outdoor activities. Activities that had a very low participation rate include Attendance at recreational courses (1%), Attendance at sporting events (2%) and Visiting entertainment and cultural venues (4%).

Participation rate for selected free time activities: By sex - 2006

Male participants
Female participants
All participants
%
%
%

Social and community interaction
Socialising
17
22
20
Visiting entertainment and cultural venues
3
5
4
Attendance at sports events
2
2
2
Religious activities/ritual ceremonies
4
6
5
Total social and community interaction
45
56
51
Recreation and leisure
Sports and outdoor activity
25
25
25
Games/Hobbies/Arts/Crafts
16
19
17
Reading
40
47
44
Audio/visual media
95
95
95
Attendance at recreational courses
-
1
1
Total recreation and leisure
99
99
99

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)


Due to differences in definitions and collection methodologies, participation rates for specific activities may differ from those reported in other ABS surveys. The Time Use Survey results relate to the number of people participating in the activity on a single day and are derived from data that take all days of the week into account as well as different seasons of the year. Other surveys ask respondents to recall participation in activities over a longer period (e.g. 12 months). Participation rates for these surveys refer to any incidence of participation over that period.

Table 3 shows that all people spent an average of 2 minutes per day attending sports events. However, table 7 shows the average time for only those who actually participated in the activity. For example, if we exclude the 98% of people who didn't attend a sports event, we find that those people who actually attended spent an average of 127 minutes (just over 2 hours) per day attending sports events.

Similarly, people spent an average of 4 minutes per day Visiting entertainment and cultural venues. But those who participated (4% of all people) spent an average of 114 minutes (just short of two hours) per day Visiting entertainment and cultural venues.

Average time spent by participants on selected free time activities, Primary and secondary activities - 2006

Male participants
Female participants
All participants
Minutes per day
Minutes per day
Minutes per day

Social and community interaction
Socialising
123
96
108
Visiting entertainment and cultural venues
125
108
114
Attendance at sports events
144
109
127
Religious activities/ritual ceremonies
91
91
91
Recreation and leisure
Sports and outdoor activity
103
73
88
Games/Hobbies/Arts/Crafts
108
93
100
Reading
79
74
76
Audio/visual media
288
260
274
Attendance at recreational courses
100
118
113


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TIME SPENT ON SELECTED CULTURAL AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES IN FREE TIME

Primary and secondary activities

This section focusses on selected cultural and leisure activities reported in the Time Use Survey in more detail. The cultural and leisure activities included are:
  • Sport and outdoor activities
  • Games, hobbies, arts and crafts
  • Reading
  • Audio/visual media
  • Internet
  • Visiting entertainment and cultural events
  • Attendance at sporting events

Data from the 2006 survey shows that, while these activities tend to have low participation rates, those people who do participate tend to spend a lot of time on them.

The activities which participants spent the most time on were: Attendance at racing events (on average 280 minutes per day, or 4 hours and 40 minutes); Attendance at amusement parks (4 hours and 11 minutes per day); and Fishing (3 hours and 36 minutes).

Activities where participants spent between two and three hours on average per day were: Watching TV (179 minutes per day); Attendance at concerts (159 minutes); Organised sport (148 minutes); Attendance at zoo, animal park or botanic garden (136 minutes); Attendance at other mass events (131 minutes); Attendance at theatre (130 minutes); Attendance at movies or cinema (129 minutes); Holiday travel or driving for pleasure (127 minutes); Sport (informal) (124 minutes) and Listening to radio (123 minutes).

By comparison, participants spent the least time on average on Attendance at library (34 minutes per day), Reading a magazines (41 minutes), Reading a newspapers (47 minutes), Walking (53 minutes) and Exercise (54 minutes).

Men spent more time than women engaged in most of the cultural and leisure activities, but women spent more time on average on Hiking and bushwalking (78 minutes per day for women compared to 68 minutes for men), Handwork and craft (119 minutes compared to 86), Attendance at zoos, animal parks, and botanic gardens (156 minutes compared to 112) and Attendance at racing events (380 minutes compared to 253).

Men spent, on average, over two hours a day more attending amusement parks (343 minutes for men and 195 minutes for women) and one hour a day more on Arcade games (128 minutes and 63 minutes respectively) and Hobbies/collections than women (128 minutes and 67 minutes).

In previous Time Use Surveys, Internet use was categorised as an activity in its own right. However, the way we use the Internet has changed to become a means for completing a task as opposed to an activity in itself. An example of this is conducting banking online. Banking would be the primary activity supported by the secondary activity of Internet use. Where another activity was not specified, Internet use was coded to Audio visual media n.e.c.

On average in 2006, males were more likely to access the Internet than females (18 minutes per day for males as opposed to 13 minutes per day for females). Of the participants that used the Internet, males spent an average of 107 minutes per day using the Internet with women spending an average of 80 minutes per day using the Internet.

Average time spent by participants on selected cultural and leisure activities, Primary and secondary activities: by sex - 2006

Male participants
Female participants
All participants
Minutes per day
Minutes per day
Minutes per day

Sport and outdoor activity
Organised sport
154
135
148
Informal sport
135
97
124
Exercise (excluding walking)
57
52
54
Hiking/bushwalking
68
*78
74
Fishing
220
189
216
Holiday travel, driving for pleasure
133
119
127
Games, hobbies, arts and crafts
Chess, card, paper, board games/crosswords
72
67
69
Games of chance/gambling
91
88
90
Arcade games
*128
63
*91
Hobbies,collections
128
67
99
Handwork, crafts
*86
119
118
Arts
*94
92
93
Performing/making music
90
57
74
Reading
Reading a book
81
66
71
Reading a magazine
47
38
41
Reading a newspaper
52
40
47
Audio/visual media
Watching TV
184
174
179
Watching video/DVD
116
102
109
Listening to radio
136
111
123
Listening to records/tapes/CDs and other audio media
75
67
71
Internet
Use of Internet
107
80
94
Visiting entertainment and culture venues
Attendance at movies/cinema
129
129
129
Attendance at concert
163
156
159
Attendance at theatre
138
126
130
Attendance at library
35
33
34
Attendance at museum/exhibition/art gallery
74
86
82
Attendance at zoo/animal park/botanic garden
**112
*156
*136
Attendance at amusement park
343
*195
251
Attendance at other mass events
156
115
131
Attendance at sports events
Attendance at sports match
138
103
120
Attendance at racing event
253
380
280

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
** estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use


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