continuing and regular basis, ATUS will allow the creation of a time series of time inputs into a consistently defined set of activities that can be used to construct quantity measures for satellite accounts. Indeed, it is only with the development of ATUS that the inclusion of household production in an on-going system of satellite accounts has become possible. While ATUS lacks some desirable features offered by the smaller, irregular time-budgets conducted in some other countries, its large sample size, its on-going character, the expected high quality of the data collected, and the categories into which the time allocations are placed make it well suited for the purposes envisioned by the panel.

Yet, ATUS may not provide adequate information for understanding the nature of care work within the household, which often involves constraining responsibilities rather than direct activities. For instance, specific survey modules (e.g., regarding child care and elder care) may need to be designed that could complement the basic ATUS and help capture the more qualitative dimensions of both inputs and outputs of family care. Such modules would contribute to complementarities between the panel's efforts to assign a value of health outcomes and earnings-related human capital, both of which are strongly affected by inputs of household or family time.

In order to move toward the type of output valuation described in this report, researchers would need better organized data not only on household capital, but also on forms of market capital and public capital that have significant effects on the productivity of household time. Such data would need to cover, for example, not just the development of new consumer durable goods like microwave ovens, but also the impact of ATMs and price scanners on time devoted to money transactions and shopping, of broadband and satellites on household entertainment time, and of public investments (such as electricity, water, transportation). While such data exist, they are not organized in a clear or coherent, much less user-friendly way.

In addition to its obvious role in constructing a household production account, ATUS will also provide data essential to accounts covering other areas of nonmarket activity for which time is a key input—such as health, volunteer activities, and human capital. For purposes of health accounting, ATUS may be useful in generating improved estimates of family members’ and patients’ time in treatment and time exercising or sleeping. These inputs, along with such others as time reading to children or studying, will contribute to work on human capital. Because time use is the theme that links most of the nonmarket areas, an integrated account could be based on ATUS as a starting point; additional information to help measure outputs could possibly be added to future versions of this survey.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement