States are those underway in three other large English-speaking countries—Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Canada first administered a national time-use survey in 1981 and subsequently established it as a regular component of its General Social Survey. Additional questions on unpaid housework and child care and elder care were asked on the 1996 census. Statistics Canada has used time-budget data to construct estimates of the value of households’ unpaid work. The most recent estimates, constructed using a replacement cost approach, put the value of households’ unpaid work in 1992 at about 34 percent of GDP (Statistics Canada, 1995, p. 42).
Australia administered a pilot national time-use survey in 1987, with expanded versions in 1992 and 1997. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published estimates of the value of unpaid work based on the 1997 survey. Relying on several different measures of replacement cost, ABS calculated that unpaid work amounted to about 48 percent of Australian GDP in that year (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000, p. 5). The divergence in the Canadian and Australian estimates of the amount of unpaid work likely reflects differences in the methodologies used in their time-use surveys, including differences in the categorization of activities, but no detailed comparisons or explanations have been offered to date.
The United Kingdom administered a time-use survey in 2000, but in developing measures of nonmarket output the U.K. Office for National Statistics has applied an output-based method of valuation, rather than simply assigning a replacement value to time devoted to unpaid work (Holloway et al., 2002). The experimental accounts that have resulted are focused on several different outputs of the household sector: provision of housing, transport, nutrition, clothing and laundry, child care, adult care, and volunteer activity. Perhaps because of the emphasis on methodological development, the office did not provide an estimate of the size of the country’s household sector relative to standard measures of GDP (Holloway et al., 2002).
Pioneering academics have engaged in lonely but important data collection efforts to collect time-budget data for the United States. Mainly because of the absence of continuing federal funding for this activity, however, it seems fair to conclude that the United States has until very recently been in the derrière garde worldwide in the collection of such data.
In January 2003, the Bureau of Labor Statistics initiated the monthly American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This study originated in part out of research interest in valuing women’s time in the household. Concerns that women’s contributions were being undervalued by the exclusion of household production activities prompted the initial Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) efforts to develop and test the collection of time-use data, leading to a pilot study in 1997 and full-