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November 2012, Vol. 135, No. 11
Adding eldercare questions to the American Time Use Survey
Stephanie L. Denton
Stephanie L. Denton is an economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Division of Labor Force Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) provides nationally representative estimates of how, where, and with whom Americans ages 15 and over spend their time. In January 2011, the ATUS introduced new questions to measure how many unpaid hours Americans spend caring for older individuals, and the new data were released in June 2012.1 Informal eldercare is a major source of assistance for elderly persons, and the need for quality data on how much time is devoted to eldercare and how it affects caregivers' lives is becoming increasingly important as the U.S. population ages. This article details the work that was done to operationally define eldercare and to measure the time people spend providing this care. Development included a review of existing eldercare measures, focus groups with caregivers, subject matter and survey method expert reviews, internal testing and refinement of the questions, and cognitive interviews with caregivers. This article highlights the findings and conclusions of each stage in developing the questions and discusses the implementation of eldercare questions in the ATUS.
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1 See "American Time Use Survey—2011 Results," USDL-12-1246 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 22, 2012), http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf; and "Eldercare in 2011" (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011), http://www.bls.gov/tus/2011_eldercare_factsheet.htm.
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