Measuring Time Use in Surveys – How Valid are Time Use Questions in Surveys? Concordance of Survey and Experience Sampling Measures

33 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2011

See all articles by Bettina Sonnenberg

Bettina Sonnenberg

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Michaela Riediger

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Cornelia Wrzus

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Gert G. Wagner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Berlin University of Technology; German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)

Date Written: July 2011

Abstract

Since it is still unclear to what extent time allocation retrospectively reported in questionnaires, reflects people’s actual behavior, examining the accuracy of responses to time use survey questions is of crucial importance. We analyze the congruence of time use information assessed through retrospective questionnaires and through experience sampling methodology. The sample comprised 433 individuals ranging in age from 14 to 86 years. Participants completed standard survey questions on time allocation. In addition, a mobile - phone based experience sampling technology was used over a period of three weeks to obtain snapshots of, on average, 54 momentary activities in which participants participated while pursuing their normal daily routines. Experience sampling assessments were scheduled six times a day over at least nine days, including workdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Results indicate that the congruence between time allocation assessed with survey questions (i.e. in SOEP) and time allocation assessed with experience sampling methodology depends on the characteristics of the respective activities. Associations between standard survey questions and experience sampling methods are quite substantial for long-lasting and externally structured activities, such as paid work on workdays. In contrast, associations between survey and experience sampling methods are somewhat weaker, though highly statistically significant, for less externally structured, short-term and infrequent activities, such as errands, housework, and leisure. These moderate and relatively small correlations may indicate either an error-prone estimation of the prevalence of short term and infrequent activities by experience sampling or respondents’ overrating of sporadic and short activities in survey questions. We conclude that activities with a long duration, such as paid work, can be measured in a satisfactory manner using short survey questions. Future research is necessary to elucidate which method (experience sampling method or survey questions) delivers more reliable and valid measures for short term and sporadic activities. Day Reconstruction Methods (DRM) should be included in this future methodological research.

Keywords: survey methods, experience sampling method, validity, time use, market work, housework, leisure, German socio-sconomic panel study, MMAA, SOEP

JEL Classification: C21, C83, C93, D10

Suggested Citation

Sonnenberg, Bettina and Riediger, Michaela and Wrzus, Cornelia and Wagner, Gert G., Measuring Time Use in Surveys – How Valid are Time Use Questions in Surveys? Concordance of Survey and Experience Sampling Measures (July 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1895307 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1895307

Bettina Sonnenberg (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Michaela Riediger

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
D-14195 Berlin, 14195
Germany
+49 0 30-82406-411 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ntfm.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/mpib/FMPro

Cornelia Wrzus

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
D-14195 Berlin, 14195
Germany

Gert G. Wagner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany
+49 30 8 978 9290 (Phone)
+49 30 8 978 9200 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.diw.de/programme/jsp/MA.jsp?language=en&uid=gwagner

Berlin University of Technology ( email )

Straße des 17
Berlin, 10623
Germany
+30 8 978 9283 (Phone)

German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) ( email )

DIW Berlin
10108 Berlin, Berlin
Germany
+49 30 8978 9290 (Phone)
+49 30 8978 9109 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.diw/en/soep

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