Securing the Centre for Time Use Research

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Social Science


The CTUR is the world-leading specialist in collecting and analysing nationally representative samples of time diaries. It has pioneered a unique post-field-work harmonised cross-national data base (the Multinational Time Use Study MTUS). It produces original sociological, economic and other research (at first in the fields of gender relations, parenting and national accounting, more recently in public health, transport, and environmental assessment). It provides resources and support for academics, National Statistics Institutes and other public and private users. The current CTUR funding comes to an end in September 2019; new ESRC funding provides for the group until April 2021. This legacy application has two objectives: continuing CTUR resource provision for a period of 54 months from October 2019 (the end of the current ESRC Centre designation), and ensuring that our expertise in time use data collection and analysis is properly carried forward.

Our proposed legacy program is designed to secure the essence of the ESRC's investment, in the harmonised MTUS dataset, in the accumulating expertise in time-use data collection methods, and in the data-analytic skills that underlie our work in discovering, and communicating, new applications for time-use methods. We identify three requirements for legacy funding to achieve this:

1. Support for an annual programme of workshops, on time-use data-collection and data analytic methods, intended both for postgraduate and post-doctoral researchers as well as for members of NSIs. We also anticipate that there will be increasing demand from professionals in other new applications of time-diary data-in public health, environmental sustainability, and transport applications-will be attracted to this programme

2. Support also for a continuation for our visitor programme, consisting of extended attachments to CTUR of academic, commercial or public sector secondees, for periods ranging between one month and one year, which allow for more extensive knowledge exchange, and lead both to the incorporation of new techniques and processes within the seconding institutions, and also update and increase CTUR's own knowledge of user issues and requirements.

3. Funding for some staff to support and underpin the workshop and visitor programme as well as maintaining the viability of the time-use database, the associated meta-data documentation, and the data download, record-keeping and data-access control mechanisms. Small-scale legacy fund support for very-part-time directorial, managerial and technical staffing inputs is required to provide the co-ordination, organisation and motivational glue for CTUR's data maintenance, knowledge exchange and dissemination activities.

We have already secured separate funding for the next two years of MTUS data acquisition and maintenance activity, as part of the work-programme of a new ESRC responsive mode grant to CTUR ("New Frontiers for Time Use Research"). We also have, from July 2019, three further years of annual NIH grants agreed (NIH contracts are, however, only issued annually). And we will be seeking new funding, either from Wellcome or a cross-Research Council group (ESRC plus MRC), primarily supporting the augmented diary plus motion sensor research on a nationally representative scale which will also provide longer term support for MTUS development.

Planned Impact

National statistics capacity building.

Our research enhances the status of time use statistics in public debates surrounding a range of issues relating to inequality, health and wellbeing. Our work is at the forefront of advances in methodology for collecting time use data, and we will continue to add to the rich series of time use surveys currently available in the UK. In partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS), we will add a new UK national time use survey, due to be collected in 2019, to our existing UK Heritage series (stretching from 1961). Beyond this, our program of activities around data collection lays the groundwork for the next UK HETUS household survey in 2023-24. Survey methodologists are currently grappling with the opportunities and challenges that technology such as smartphones and wearable devices present, to aid and enhance the collection of data for the social sciences. CTUR has been carrying out a range of experiments with new approaches to collecting time use data using different technologies. Our work over the next five years will synthesise the lessons we have learned so far and inform the design and development of the next large-scale UK HETUS household time use survey. Our work will have an immediate impact on the future collection of time use data in the UK.
Though our major contribution so far has been to the ONS, we are widely consulted by other national and international statistical institutes, including Eurostat, the Scottish Prime Minister's office, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Statistics New Zeeland. A CTUR member has recently joined the steering committees of the new ABS continuous time use survey.
We expect also to contribute to the knowledge base concerning the use of new technologies (GPS, accelerometers and worn cameras, combined with geo-informatics and AI-driven automatic coding) to the collection of social science data more generally.

Resource provision to users.

The Multinational Time Use Survey is at the centre of major advances in our knowledge of cross-national differences and historical change in the gender division of labour and in the balances of time spent in work and leisure. CTUR has developed MTUS strategically as a comprehensive store of information from countries spanning Esping-Andersen's "worlds of welfare capitalism": MTUS has become the go-to source of data on how regimes shape daily life. The next phase of enhancements to MTUS will directly impact both on our own substantive research program, and on data-users worldwide, in two ways. 1) adding the latest surveys from countries already included in MTUS gives the potential to consider trends in time use within and across welfare-state regimes, moving the field beyond a static comparative analysis of the influence of welfare-state regimes on daily life, towards the analysis of regime differentials in historical trends. 2) adding new countries from South and East Asia, South America, and Africa make it a global data resource. The new datasets, not previously included in comparative time use research, have the potential of broadening the MTUS User base, advancing understanding of gendered work and the work/life balance, and reshaping the research agenda for a wider range of more diverse economies
Again, we hope to ease any barriers to participation by offering funding to partially cover the costs of CTUR visitorships and of workshop attendance. We plan in particular for researchers from National Statistical Institutes to attend our training workshops.
Description Importance of time use data for measuring unpaid work and wellbeing.

Please see entries under "New Frontiers for Time Use Research."
Exploitation Route Concluding arrangements with Office of National Statistics and Cabinet Office for embodying time-use research on public policymake practice.
Sectors Environment



Democracy and Justice

Title 6 Wave UK Time use Study ("CaDDI: Click and Drag Diary Instrument" (covering COVID period 2016-2021 
Description Six wave of time use diary data, covering UK in 2016, then first lockdown and subsequent stages, used for assessing extent of infection risky vs risk-averse activity. Various publications including Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact dayasey to used in epidemiological models of infection related to daily activity patterns