Context: The all India Time Use Survey, 2019 has just been published by the Government of India.
- As a survey that has covered the entire country for the first time, the National Statistical Office (NSO), under the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, needs to be complimented for accomplishing the task.
- The International Classification of Activities for Time-Use Statistics of the United Nations Statistics Division was used for the classification of activities.
- Time Use Survey (TUS) is an important source of information about the activities that are performed by the population and the time duration for which such activities are performed.
- One distinguishing feature of the Time Use Survey from other household surveys is that it can capture time disposition on different aspects of human activities, be it paid, unpaid or other activities with such details which is not possible in other surveys.
- The primary objective of the Time Use Survey (TUS) is to measure the participation of men and women in paid and unpaid activities.
- TUS is an important source of information on the time spent in unpaid caregiving activities, volunteer work, unpaid domestic service-producing activities of the household members.
- It also provides information on time spent on learning, socializing, leisure activities, self-care activities, etc., by the household members.
Features of the Survey
- This survey covered both rural and urban households.
- Information on time use was collected from each member of age 6 years and above of the selected households.
- In this survey data on time use was collected through a personal interview method.
- Two recent developments which have pushed up the demand for TUS globally are the commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030 (especially the SDG 5.4 on unpaid work), and the path-breaking Resolution of the 19th International Conference on Labour Statistics, on “Statistics of Work, Employment and Labour Underutilization — International Labour Organization 2013”.
- The Government of India is fully committed to the SDGs and has also indicated its inclination to implementing to implement the Resolution.
- TUS data are also required for understanding and monitoring major socioeconomic concerns of countries.
- Somehow, both these developments have not been incorporated in this first time use survey.
- The ILO’s Resolution — referred to above — presents a new definition of work, new forms of work and a new labour force status classification.
- It defines “work” as “any activity performed by persons of any sex and age to produce goods or provide services for use by others or own use”.
- “Work” is divided into five categories:
- Employment (production of goods and services for pay, profit or barter);
- Own use production of goods and services by households;
- Unpaid trainee work;
- Volunteer work; and
- Other work (compulsory work performed without pay to produce goods/services for others).
- Unpaid domestic services and unpaid care are now formally recognised as “work” for the first time.
- Clearly, the Resolution cannot be implemented without time use data.
- A TUS collects data only for one or two days per person in a week, while according to the ILO, “a person is a worker if she/he has spent at least one hour on work in the reference week”.
- As informal work is frequently intermittent and irregular, the TU’s information on one day’s work (for less than one hour) or non-work cannot qualify the person to be a worker or non-worker.
- It is quite likely that the person reporting as a non-worker on one day may be working on other days, or one reporting work may not work for one hour totally in the week.
- Thus, the TUS cannot provide information on the workforce/employment status of persons.
- It is necessary, therefore, to draw the TU’s sample (which is always smaller) from the same sampling framework that is used by the labour force survey (EUS), with some common units.
- The TUS can complement the labour force survey (LFS) information. The independent TUS cannot provide estimates of the workforce/labour force.
- In short, the Indian TUS has missed two important opportunities — implementing the SDG 5.4 and the ILO’s important resolution.