ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Indian Time Use Survey 2019

A Critique

The first all-India time use survey was conducted by the National Statistical Office in 2019. It covered 1,38,794 households—60% rural and 40% urban—and 4,47,250 persons above six years of age. This paper examines the concepts, methods, and quality of data used in the TUS 2019, the results of which throw light on the workforce, health and educational status of the population, and other dimensions of life. The status of TUSs in the global South and the challenges faced by the countries therein, as well as how successful
the NSO has been in facing these challenges in India are also discussed.

The author was a member of the standing committee on labour force statistics (SCLFS) set up by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to design the all-India time use survey. However, the author’s note sent to the SCLFS could not be discussed by the committee, perhaps due to a lack of sufficient time. This paper has been written in this context, with all positive intentions.

Time use surveys (TUSs) provide detailed information about how individuals spend their time, on a daily or weekly basis, on various activities. This includes, first, economic activities that fall within the production boundary, which cover production of goods and services for the market; production of goods or fixed assets by producers for their own final consumption, or as fixed investment; and certain non-market activities such as provision of goods and services by government agencies. National income accounts include all goods and services covered by the production boundary. Second are activities that fall within the general production boundary but outside the production boundary, covering production of unpaid services such as unpaid household services, unpaid care and voluntary services. The third kind are personal activities that fall outside the general production boundary and are non-delegable activities like eating, sleeping, watching television, etc. TUS is the only survey technique available for collecting comprehensive data on all three types of human activities.

TUS was introduced in the early 20th century, and the data collected has a wide range of uses. Ever since developing countries began to collect time use data in the 1990s, it is used mainly to measure and understand informal and subsistence work, employment planning, and to understand child labour. Recently, time use data are also used to assess the impact of different macroeconomic policies on unpaid work of women and men, and to design sound macroeconomic policies. By visibilising life outside the conventional economy, time use data has opened up immense possibilities for studying the different dimensions of human life. Two recent developments that have pushed up the demand for TUS globally are the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be implemented by 2030, and implementing the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) resolution concerning statistics on work, employment and labour underutilisation (ILO 2013).

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Updated On : 12th Sep, 2022
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