Children’s time-use diaries: promoting research, sharing best practice and evaluating innovations in data collection internationally

About the project

Time diaries have been widely used in social research across the world since the 1960s. However despite their popularity, there remain many unresolved methodological issues, especially in relation to studies of minors. The inclusion of a time-diary component in the age 14 survey of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) offers an opportunity to improve the usability of diaries and increase researchers’ understanding of how to deploy them effectively.

This project aimed to optimise the design and coverage of the MCS age 14 time-use diary so as to maximise benefit to the research community and minimise non-response due to respondent burden. The diary covered cohort members’ exercise, homework and social participation, helping researchers to evaluate links between children’s activity patterns and subsequent outcomes in health, educational attainment, earnings and wellbeing.

In addition, this project re-released the time-diaries completed by the 1970 cohort members at age 16, allowing historical comparisons between the two cohorts as well as international comparisons with other cohort-based child-diary studies.

Finally, the project shared best practice and increased expertise within the research community. It produced working papers and provided workshops on time-use data-collection methodology and secondary analysis of previous child diary studies.

Partnership organisations

This project was a partnership between the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) and the Oxford Centre for Time Use Research (CTUR). It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and ran until March 2014.

CLS contact

Lisa Calderwood,

Senior Survey Manager

Lisa leads the teams responsible for survey management and cohort maintenance on the 1958, 1970 and millennium cohort studies. An expert in all aspects of survey design, Lisa’s research interests are in survey methodology, particularly in relation to longitudinal survey design and implementation. Email Lisa

Project team

Jonathan Gershuny, CTUR Oxford

Kimberly Fisher, CTUR Oxford

Stella Chatzitheochari, CLS

Samantha Parsons, CLS