UK Time Use Surveys: A Review (ESCoE TR-25)


UK Time Use Surveys: A Review (ESCoE TR-25)

By Aisha Chabdu, Chujan Sivathasan, Curtis Jessop, Marta Mezzanzanica, Olivia Sexton, Sierra Mesplie-Cowan, Jo D’Ardenne

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In recent years, two time use surveys using online diary tools have been developed and
used in the UK. These are: ‘ELiDDI’ developed by the Centre for Time Use Research
(CTUR) based at University College London, and ‘OTUS’ developed by the Office for
National Statistics (ONS). Both these tools provide a novel and representative perspective
on society and economic activity in the UK in a manner that reduces the costs, data
collection time and respondent burden relative to historical approaches.
The Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) have brought together both the
teams at CTUR and ONS – along with a diverse group of experts including survey
providers and stakeholders – with the aim of establishing a unified and comprehensive
data collection tool. This tool aims to gather high-quality, comparable data while prioritising
the following objectives:

  • maintaining and improving the existing time series.
  • ensuring representativeness.
  • enhancing accessibility and promoting inclusivity.
  • encompassing data needs for a broad audience of data users and researchers.

Between November 2023 and March 2024 various streams of work – including a review of
the tools and the fieldwork design, stakeholders’ workshop and time use data quality
analysis – were undertaken to review the latest versions of the ELiDDI and OTUS tools to
ensure that they are collecting the best possible quality data and meeting the range of
economic measurement needs.

By presenting the findings of the review of the current tools and survey fieldwork design,
this report aims at informing decision-making and guiding future developments in the field
of time use surveys. However, to develop an optimal survey design that meets the needs of
users and stakeholders while maximising the utility and reliability of the collected data, it is
essential to consider these findings alongside the other streams of work.