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Entropy and stability in time use – An empirical investigation based on the German Time Use Survey


  • Rainer Hufnagel

    () (Department of Home Economics University of Münster)


Flexibility is a tool for preserving the stability of a system. In general, we can expect that the more variant its behaviour, the more stable a system will be. The investigation provides an example of this principle within the discipline of home economics. For a sample of single-person households from Germany’s national Time Use Survey 2001/2002, it can be shown that the stability of activity sequences is greater, the higher the entropy of time use. For this purpose, a Markov model is derived from heuristic considerations. The Markov matrices are estimated and their eigenvectors and eigenvalues then calculated. It is evident that the entropy of an attractor is higher, the lower the norm of the second eigenvalue of the corresponding Markov matrix. The main components of this relationship, namely diversity and stability in time use, turn out to be only weakly associated with the usual socio-economic regressors. Hence, new empirically and theoretically relevant dimensions for socio-economic research emerge.

Suggested Citation

  • Rainer Hufnagel, 2008. "Entropy and stability in time use – An empirical investigation based on the German Time Use Survey," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 5(1), pages 26-42, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:leu:journl:2008:vol5:p26-42

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    More about this item


    Time use survey; Markov process; system stability; entropy; teaching;

    JEL classification:

    • A21 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Pre-college
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation


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