IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Too Many Zeros: A Method for Estimating Long-Term Time-Use from Short Diaries


  • Jonathan Gershuny


Various issues of public policy and individual wellbeing, ranging from physical exercise to access to cultural activities and leisure more generally, require reliable estimates of the distribution of relatively infrequent (much less than daily) activities across populations. Questionnaire items (such as those asking "How often do you (engage in ... activity)?", suffer from respondent recall, classification, observation period and social desirability problems; own-words diaries are therefore the preferred method of measuring time use. But the respondent burden imposed by diary instruments is considerable, and the normal advice is to limit the length of diaries to a single day. This paper sets out a method for combining questionnaire "habit" indicators and diary methods to provide reliable long-term estimates of time use. It concludes that the usefulness of exercises such as the American Time Use Study and the Harmonised European Time Use Study would be greatly enhanced by the collection of habit measures from their diary respondents. And the use of this method might substantially reduce the average cost of collecting high quality time use evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Gershuny, 2012. "Too Many Zeros: A Method for Estimating Long-Term Time-Use from Short Diaries," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 105-106, pages 247-270.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2012:i:105-106:p:247-270

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sophie Ponthieux, 2015. "Introduction. Les enquêtes Emploi du temps : une source majeure pour l'étude des inégalités sociales et de genre," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 478(1), pages 59-77.
    2. Jara-Díaz, Sergio & Rosales-Salas, Jorge, 2017. "Beyond transport time: A review of time use modeling," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 209-230.
    3. Campaña, Juan Carlos & Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, Jose Alberto, 2016. "Diferencias entre auto-empleados y asalariados en los usos del tiempo: Aragón vs. Spain
      [Differences between self-employees and wage-earners in time uses: Aragon vs. Spain]
      ," MPRA Paper 71463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. repec:eee:jotrge:v:66:y:2018:i:c:p:19-29 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2012:i:105-106:p:247-270. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Laurent Linnemer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.