New South Wales


A World Unseen: How Time Diary Data is Essential to Constructing Policy Advice


From: Tuesday July 9, 2024, 8:15 am

To: Tuesday July 9, 2024, 1:15 pm

A World Unseen: How Time Diary Data is Essential to Constructing Policy Advice

An ESA Community Education Half-Day Event

The way the market works is clear to us, thanks to the many available economic statistics. However, there is another type of production that happens outside the market, usually in people's homes, which we don't see as easily. This non-market production also uses resources - time in particular - to create goods and services without involving money payments.

International organisations like the UN, the International Labor Organization and the World Bank are increasingly acknowledging the existence of both realms. In contrast to the market economy the non-market economy is poorly served statistically (OECD 2022). To understand it, high-quality, granular data are needed on how we actually spend our time.

The Australian Time Use Surveys of 1992, 1997 and 2006 were considered the best in the world (Committee on National Statistics, 2000:30). These surveys showed that the total time Australian adults devoted to non-market production far exceeded the total time they allocated to conventional production markets (Ironmonger 2004). Using an output measure derived from these Australian time use data, Duncan Ironmonger estimated that the value of the goods and services produced by non-market means exceeds the value of those produced in markets (Ironmonger 2009). But in recent years, good quality time-diary data have not been collected in Australia.

As well as revealing the massive scale of unrecorded economic production, high-quality time use information has important policy applications. A well-designed time use survey that captures all activities adults do within a given time window provides information critical to effective preventative public health policy, energy policy, and infrastructure decisions. Time use information enables us to more accurately gauge the population levels of physical activity, eating patterns, and sleep, and far better measure sustainable energy consumption and travel. Granular daily device use information can inform studies of productivity, leisure, and e-safety. The enjoyment experienced during activities, measured in high-quality time diary surveys, can be used to better understand individual and population well-being.

Who Should Atttend?

The programme will be of interest to economic and social policy-makers across a range of domains including public health, transport, and community services, anyone interested in gender equity, labour supply and participation, those involved with the media and e-safety, and researchers wanting to better understand Australians’ mental health and well-being.

Leading international and Australian experts in the collection, analysis and applications of time use data are part of an exciting program that includes:

  • An overview and history of time use diary data and its validation
  • Childcare
  • Labour supply
  • Transport / work from home
  • Wellbeing
  • National accounts and extended income distribution information
  • Public Health – Levels of physical activity in the adult population
  • Public Health –Cross-national studies of historical changes in the social regulation of eating
  • Digitisation of work and leisure


  • Ironmonger, D. (2004). Bringing up Bobby and Betty. Family time: The social organization of care26, 93-109.
  • Ironmonger, D., & Soupourmas, F. (2009). Estimating household production outputs with time use episode data. electronic International Journal of Time Use Research6(2), 240-268.
  • Samaniego, F., Nordhaus, W., DaVanzo, J., Bradburn, N., Altonji, J., & Ver Ploeg, M. (Eds.). (2000). Time-use measurement and research: Report of a workshop. National Academies Press.

Details and Registration 

Date: Tuesday 9 July 2024
Time: 8.45AM - 1.05PM (registration from 8.30AM)

There will be an optional post-event lunch (at Jardin St James), ~$35 per person starting at 1.30PM. Please let us know if you would like to join. 

Cost: $25 for Members / $50 for Non-Members (join or renew)
Contact Us if you need help with your login
 Venue: In-person: NSW Treasury, 52 Martin Place (Enter via 127 Phillip Street)
Sydney NSW 2000
  Protocols: All in-person attendees must be registered for this event. Please bring photo ID with you and report to the ground floor Concierge to mark your name off. Allow 15 minutes for clearance and lift transport; OR

  Online: On-line attendance will be available for those unable to attend in-person, or if in-person capacity is filled. Please note your preference when registering. The event will be recorded and published on the ESA website.



Click here to Book Online


NSW Treasury

52 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

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