In this section we focus on educational activities directly related to formal schooling. These include students’ time spent in school and doing homework, as well as parents’ time spent in school-related activities, such as parent-teacher meetings and assisting their children with homework. Other types of educational activities, such as attending plays, reading books for leisure, or on-the-job training, are not considered.
The most promising sources of information on time spent in educational activities are time-use surveys, as only limited information is available from other sources. Eisner (1989) used the Michigan surveys of 1965, 1975, and 1981 for that purpose (see, for example, Juster, 1978), but does not report the actual time estimates. Gates and Murphy (1982) and Jorgenson and Fraumeni (1989) both relied on the Coleman report (Coleman et al., 1966) for estimates of time spent in school and homework. Jorgenson and Fraumeni assumed that all enrolled students spent 1,300 hours per year on these activities over the 1948-1986 period they studied. Gates and Murphy (1982) do not report their assumption about hours per student. Garrison and Krueger (2004) estimate the time spent in public elementary or secondary school as 6.5 hours per day times the term length. They vary the term length from 175 days in 1939-1940 to 180 days in 1999-2000. It should be noted that, unfortunately, BLS’s new American Time Use Survey does not provide data on the allocation of time for children under the age of fifteen, and thus cannot be used to estimate the time they devote to education.
Eisner (1989, p. 66) estimates average minutes per week by adults in child education at home, by sex and employment categories. Data are available from the Michigan time-use surveys for selected years; these data are extrapolated to cover the whole period of interest. Minutes per week vary from a low of 5 minutes for nonemployed males in 1981 to a high of 116 minutes for nonemployed females in 1946-1975. Neither Gates (1984) nor Jorgenson and Fraumeni (1989) separate out time spent by parents in school-related activities, and Garrison and Krueger (2004) do not include parent time devoted to child education in their estimates. More and more up-to-date information on student and parent time inputs to education clearly is needed.
Recommendation 5.2: Information on time-use patterns from statistical agencies and other sources, together with a consistent set of demographic data, should be used to estimate the amount of time spent in school and in educational-related activities by students and their parents. New sources of information will be needed for these estimates.