4150.0 - Time Use Survey: User Guide, 2006  
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Contents >> Data Quality >> LIMITATIONS ON DATA ITEMS



Highest qualification may in some cases include qualifications not accredited in Australia, including overseas qualifications.


A short labour force module was used. Users should refer to Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6202.0) for more detailed information on employment. The population included in the question on 'reasons not looking for work' is very small. It is not intended to provide data on discouraged job seekers; the main reason for asking this question is to identify those constrained to stay out of employment by family responsibilities, and those who prefer to stay home while children are young.

As part of the labour force module in the interview part of the survey, respondents are asked to record their main activity. This question assesses respondents self perception of their main activity and does not use any strict definitions. Therefore, a respondent could say that their main activity is 'being ill or disabled'. However, in the disability module they may not indicate that they have any conditions lasting for six months or more. Furthermore, this question asks about the respondents 'current' main activity and therefore they may have indicated that they did not work last week in the Labour Force module but still indicate that their current main activity is working.


As the information was collected from a responsible adult in the household about other members, a limited subset of the more detailed income questions was used.

Disability and assistance

The module of data items about disability is not designed to provide counts of people by disability status. The ABS conducts a regular large scale survey on this topic, the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, the most recent in 2003 (Cat. no. 4430.0). The purpose of this module is to allow the analyst to study the effect of disability on the person's and the household's use of time.

The data item relating to assistance given to children who have a condition lasting six months or more should be used with care for children under five years because of the difficulty of separating the assistance needed or given on account of the child's age from that given because of disability. Again, the purpose of this item is to show the impact of a child's disability or long-term health condition on the activity patterns of parents and other household members.

Care should also be used with the data item relating to why the household member gives assistance to a person outside of the household. The assessment that the person receiving assistance has a disability is made by the person responding and may not be medically correct or correspond with disability as collected by the disability module on the survey form.

Child care

The data items about child care were not designed to be used for information about children using child care or the adequacy of child care provision. Fewer questions were asked than in the ABS Child Care Survey, which is a regular large scale survey conducted by the ABS on this topic, see Child Care Australia, 2005 (Cat. no. 4402.0). These items were included to assist in interpreting the parent's patterns of time use, as the use of child care frees a parent's time for other activities.

For whom

In 2006 an additional category was added for the coding of the 'for whom' column of the diary to include activities that were done for family members within the household who were ill or with a disability. This can be used to some extent to look at the time spent caring for family members who are ill or have a disability. Activities were coded as being for someone who was ill or with a disability based on information within the diary and the interview. If household members indicated in the disability module of the interview that they had a condition that was likely to last for six months or more then activities that were done for these household members would be coded as being for a family member who was ill or with a disability. It cannot be determined whether the activity was being done for a respondent because of their disability or whether it was normal exchange between household members that is unrelated to the disability. For example, someone could be cooking dinner for themselves and their family. If one person in their family happens to have a condition lasting for six months or more (for example asthma) this activity would have been coded as being for 'family who are well' as well as for 'family with a disability'. Even though the family member has asthma, they most likely would still have been able to cook their own dinner. Due to this there are limitations on the way this item can be used to provide information about the care given to household members with a disability. However, the category provides the potential to capture conversations for emotional support, or TV watching as a form of supervision. The most useful way to study the activities of carers is to look at the overall balance between their own personal care and other activities.

Secondary activities

For primary activities, information is captured about who the activity was done for as well as the type of communication and technology used during the activity (if any). For secondary activities this supporting information is not captured. Therefore, assumptions cannot be made about the purpose of these activities. When looking at use of computers a distinction between the different types of computer use could only be made for primary activities. For example, for primary activities there is a distinction between computers used for communication and for computer use that does not involve communication. There is also a distinction between computer use without the Internet and computer use that involves the Internet. None of these distinctions can be made if the computer use was occurring as a secondary activity.

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