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August 1994, Vol. 117, No. 8
The overestimated workweek? What time diary measures suggest
John P. Robinson and Ann Bostrom
The amount of time people spend at their jobs can be an important social and economic indicator of a society's quality of life. Measured hours devoted to work are important in many ways, as A. Mata-Greenwood describes, ". . . the regulation of working time is an aspect which has a direct and measurable impact on workers' health, level of strength and fatigue, on the establishment's productivity and costs, and on society's general quality of life."1 Thus, one of the central arguments of the rising quality of life in the 20th century Western countries has been the reduction in the hours people spend at work.
Figures on hours spent at work allow analysts to see whether changes in productivity are attributed to changed production of outputs, or to changed time required to produce these outputs. They further allow analysts to gauge whether workers remain as adept in production as previously, whether workers in one industry are working more or fewer hours than those in other industries, or whether unionized workers work fewer hours than other workers.
This article describes problems that arise for respondents who are surveyed using the workweek estimate approach and comparable figures from the total time-diary approach to calculate hours of work. It also describes reliability and validity studies supporting the diary method. Finally, results showing deviations between the two approaches are presented, as well as the effects of other selected variables.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 1994 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 J. Mata-Greenwood, An Integrated Framework for the Measurement of Working Time. Working papers No. 92-2 (Geneva, Switzerland, STAT, International Labour Organization, 1992)
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