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Methodological descriptions: Time Use Survey 2009

Background of the survey

The Time Use Survey is a sample survey, in which the participants kept accurate records of their time use for two 24-hour periods. For example, the survey looks at working time, time spent on domestic work, sleeping and having meals, free time activities as well as how people spend time together and where the activities take place. It also examines how the time of the day, day of the week and seasons affect the rhythms of time use.

Statistics Finland has carried out four national time use surveys at approximately ten-year intervals. The most recent survey dates back to 2009–2010. The previous surveys were carried out in 1979, 1987–1988 and 1999–2000. Data for the first survey were collected in September-November, and the survey covered those aged 10–64 years. The later surveys were conducted over 12-month periods, and they targeted those aged 10 or over.

Similarly to the previous survey, the Time Use Survey of 2009–2010 was harmonised at the EU level. Some 20 European countries carried out a harmonised time use survey for the first time at the turn of the millennium. The same number of countries will also conduct a survey in 2008–2015. Following Eurostat's recommendation, the data for the last two Time Use Surveys in Finland were collected by household. In the first two surveys, samples consisting of individuals were used.

Implementation of the survey

The data for the survey were collected through interviews and by means of time use diaries distributed to the respondents. The members of a household aged 10 or over kept a record of their time use on one weekday and one Saturday or Sunday. Those at work also kept a weekly record of the time they spent on gainful employment over seven days. The interview part of the survey focused on information on employment, study, voluntary work and free time activities.

Eurostat's guidelines allow the use of nationally compiled interview questions as well as the addition of national time use categories to the basic classification frame. However, the format of the diary that was used is fully harmonised.

Data for the survey were collected between April 2009 and May 2010. The sample comprised the members aged 10 or over in 4,499 households. The interviews were computer-aided face-to-face or telephone interviews. They were conducted by interviewers working for Statistics Finland around Finland. Data collection for the survey was funded by the Social Insurance Institution, the National Consumer Research Centre, the Central Union for Child Welfare, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Family Federation, the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the Ministry of the Environment.

A diary was kept by 3,795 people, and their time use records covered 7,480 days. The diary was acceptably returned by 41 per cent of them. In the previous survey, the rate of response for the diaries was 52 per cent. In previous surveys, where the samples consisted of individuals, the response rates were clearly higher. Weighting was used to adjust for nonresponse bias. The weights were standardised to correspond with data obtained from population statistics and various registers. The sampling design and weighting of the Time Use Survey are described in more detail in the article: Visnen, Paavo (2012). Sampling design and weighting procedures for Time Use Survey 2009–2010. In: Pkknen, Hannu & Hanifi, Riitta. Time Use Changes in Finland through the 2000s. Living Conditions 2012. Statistics Finland, Helsinki, 98–108.

The respondents wrote in their diaries a freely worded description of what they were doing with an accuracy of 10 minutes. It was possible to record two simultaneous activities in the diary. Time spent together with other members of the household and acquaintances was also recorded. The location where the activity took place was determined in connection with data classification.

The data were coded and stored on file at Statistics Finland. Main and secondary activities were classified into 146 categories. The classification of time use used in 2009–2010 can be broken down into 26 categories employed in 1979, into 82 categories employed in 1987–1988 and into 132 categories employed in 1999–2000 that are comparable. In addition, individual activities are comparable. The activity classification of the Time Use Survey activity Classification is available on the Internet:


Last updated 22.12.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Time use [e-publication].
Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 13.4.2024].
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