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New Zealand Time Use Survey 1999 - article

Key Statistics - article, April 2000, p. 7-12

This article is based New Zealand's first Time Use Survey and describes how paid and unpaid work interrelate over the life cycle for men and women. It then discusses the working hours of the self-employed, and people working from home, travelling to work and working non-standard hours.

New Zealand Time Use Survey 19991

Introduction

New Zealand’s first national Time Use Survey provides new and valuable information on the way New Zealanders spend their time. The survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 1997, and conducted by Statistics New Zealand over the 12 months from July 1998 to June 1999. It gathered information on time use by women and men, Māori and non-Māori, and rural and urban people aged 12 years and over, living in private households.

Data from the survey will be used to improve public sector policy-making and programme development in the health, employment and welfare sectors, and for policy advice on specific populations such as women, Māori and youth. Time use data complements other statistics by providing new information on:

  • the actual hours that people spend doing paid work
  • the amount of time people spend on health maintenance activities
  • the characteristics of people participating in different types of voluntary work
  • time spent on caring work and the characteristics of the people who are doing it
  • where people are at different times of the day and week
  • the times of the day when people are travelling.

This article describes how paid work and unpaid work interrelate over the life cycle for women and men. It then discusses the working hours of the self-employed, and people working from home, travelling to work and working non-standard hours.

Sex differences in hours of paid and unpaid work over the life cycle

Paid work

Survey results show that men who are employed full time spend, on average, 8.7 hours per day on paid work, while women who are employed full time spend, on average, 8.0 hours per day. Men and women who are employed part time both spend, on average, 4.6 hours per day on paid work. Rural men spend almost an hour extra in paid work per day compared to urban men. In contrast, rural and urban women spend similar time on paid work.

As shown in Figure 1, the average time spent on labour market activity by all women aged 12-24 years is 1.7 hours per day. This increases steadily with age up to the 45-54 year age group. This pattern is similar for men over their life cycle, but men spend, on average, more time on paid work at all ages. Labour market activity includes work for pay or profit, education or training in work time, job search activities and travel associated with labour force activity.

Graph, Time Spent on Labour Force Activity.

Unpaid work

Women at all ages do more unpaid work than men do - on average two hours per day more.

Women spend around twice as long as men in activities such as meal preparation and other household work, and nearly three times as long looking after other people in the home.

People aged 45 years or more consistently spend more time on unpaid work outside the home than the population average of 32 minutes per day. Interestingly, for both men and women, the most common type of unpaid work for people outside the home is looking after a child.

Both Māori women and men average more time per day than non-Māori on care-giving for household members and unpaid work outside the home. On average, Māori spend 39 minutes per day on unpaid work outside the home, compared with 31 minutes for non-Māori.

Employed Māori women and men spend similar time on unpaid work outside the home - 32 minutes per day for women and 30 minutes per day for men. In comparison, employed non-Māori women spend 30 minutes per day on unpaid work outside the home and employed non-Māori men spend 24 minutes.

Unpaid work includes household work, care-giving for household members, purchasing goods and services for one’s own household, and unpaid work outside the home.

Paid and unpaid work

Women overall spend a little more time than men doing “productive work”, which includes paid and unpaid work. The real difference lies in the proportion of paid versus unpaid work done by men and women. On average men spend two more hours on paid work per day than women, while women spend two hours more per day doing unpaid work than men do.

As hours in paid work increase, the general pattern is for time spent on unpaid work to decline. However, men usually working less than 20 hours a week do less unpaid work than men who work longer hours. In contrast, the amount of time spent on unpaid work by women only declines significantly for those usually working 30 hours or more per week.

The presence of young children is an important factor in the balance between paid work and other responsibilities, particularly for people usually working 30 or more hours per week in paid employment. As shown in Figure 2, women who usually work 30 or more hours spend, across a seven-day week, an average of 5.0 hours per day on paid work if the age of the youngest child is 0-4. These women also have big unpaid work responsibilities. Where the youngest child is a pre-schooler, they spend 5.0 hours per day on all types of unpaid work, and have 2.8 hours per day free time. Free time includes religious, cultural and civic participation, as well as social entertainment, sports and hobbies, and mass media and free-time activities.

The pattern is rather different for men in these circumstances. Men in paid employment work longer hours on average than women, and their hours do not correlate so strongly with the age of the youngest child. Their unpaid work contributions are less than women’s are – 3.0 hours per day where the youngest child is a preschooler. They have 3.2 hours per day of free time.

Graph, Time Spent on Labour Force Activity by People Usually Working 30 Hours or More per Week.

Working hours of the self-employed, and people working from home, travelling to work and working non-standard hours

Self-employed compared to employees

On average, full-time self-employed men spend 7.1 hours per day on labour force activity. This is a little more than full-time male employees – 6.8 hours per day. In contrast, full-time self-employed women spend less time on labour force activity (5.4 hours per day) than full-time female employees (6.0 hours per day). Self-employed women, however, spend almost 50 minutes a day more in unpaid work than full-time female employees. This suggests that more women than men take on self-employment as a way to balance unpaid work responsibilities.

Paid work at home

People living in centres with 10,000 or fewer people have a very different pattern of paid work from urban people. Thirty-two percent of rural people’s time spent on work for pay or profit takes place at home compared to 9 percent for urban people.

Overall, women and men spend similar proportions of their paid work time at home. For women, 13 percent of the total amount of time spent on work for pay or profit is done at home and 85 percent is done at the work place. For men, the figures are 16 percent and 80 percent respectively.

Time spent travelling to work

On average, paid workers spend 44 minutes travelling to and from work each day. Those travelling by public transport spend an average of 61 minutes compared to 41 minutes spent by those using private transport and 28 minutes spent by those on foot or bicycle. On average, part-time workers spend less time on travel (36 minutes) than full-time workers do (46 minutes). Workers on higher incomes spend more time, on average, travelling to work than those on lower incomes. Urban workers spend around five minutes more a day travelling to and from work than rural workers do.

Long hours and work at weekends and at night

On average, more men than women work long hours in paid employment. Sixteen percent of the daily records for men contained labour force activity of 10 hours or more compared to 5 percent of women’s. For men, this proportion varied strongly with age. Twenty-five percent of men’s daily records in the 35-54 age group contained labour force activity of 10 hours or more. Time spent doing long hours on paid employment also varies with occupation. Thirty percent of plant and machine operators and assemblers’ records contained 10 hours or more of labour force activity, compared with 9 percent for clerks, and service and sales workers.

On average, men and women have the same weekday/weekend split in the total amount of time spent on paid work. Eighty-six percent of labour force activity by women is done on weekdays (87 percent for men) and 14 percent at the weekend (13 percent for men). Again, rural people’s results differ from their urban counterparts. Rural women spend 18 percent of their labour force activity at the weekend and rural men 17 percent. The figures for urban women and men are 13 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Ten percent of women’s labour force activity and 11 percent of men’s are between the hours of 8 pm and 6 am.

Conclusion

These are initial results of the Time Use Survey relating to the labour market and the relationship between paid and unpaid work. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Statistics New Zealand are planning a publication on time use statistics for mid-2000, which will contain more in-depth analysis.

Footnote

1 This paper was prepared by Bridget Murphy and Paul Satherley of the Social Policy Division of Statistics New Zealand.

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