Time use surveys provide data on time-use allocation for all activities, including for paid and unpaid work, along with contextual information necessary to distinguish between paid and various types of unpaid activities, and background information at individual and household levels. These data are input for (a) identification of time-use patterns; (b) measuring and valuing unpaid domestic and volunteer work; (c) improving estimates of standard labour-force statistics, including time spent on informal sector activities and unpaid productive activities (United Nations, 2005).
Modules on time use may be attached to labour force surveys, living conditions surveys or other multi-purpose household surveys. Most often these modules involve a set of questions targeted to some activities of concern, for example, time allocated to a specific list of unpaid work activities (such as water collection); or time allocated to a specific list of unpaid domestic work (such as caring for ill persons; cooking and preparing meals; doing small house repairs).
Labour force surveys or multi-purpose surveys are an important source of statistics on work-family balance because they collect at the same time information related to the type of job a person has with information related to that person’s family and household. In terms of job, in addition to employment and status in employment, important information refer to number of hours worked, schedule of work and place of work. Individual and household-related characteristics of interest are: marital status, employment status of the partner, presence in the household of pre-school children or other dependants in need for care, availability of childcare services.