EPAR Technical Report #331
Mon, 06/20/2016
Joshua Merfeld
C. Leigh Anderson
Travis Reynolds
Pierre Biscaye

Labor is one of the most productive assets for many rural households in developing countries. Despite the importance of labor—and time use more generally—little research has empirically examined the quality of time-use data in household surveys. Many household surveys rely on respondent recall, the reliability of which may decrease as recall length increases. In addition, respondents often report on time allocation for the entire household, which they may not know or recall as clearly as their own time allocation. Finally, simultaneous activities such as tending children while preparing dinner, may lead to the systematic underestimation of certain activities, particularly those that tend to be performed by women. This paper examines whether the identity of the survey respondent affects estimates of time allocation within the household. Drawing on the Ugandan LSMS-ISA household survey, we find that individuals responding for themselves report higher levels of time use over the previous week than when responding for other household members. Moreover, male respondents tend to underreport time allocation for females over the age of 15 as compared to female respondents, especially time spent on domestic activities. In addition, an analysis of the effects of two economics shocks—having a baby and floods or droughts—suggests that the identity of the respondent can affect substantive conclusions about the effects of shocks on household time use.


This report is being prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed publication. A preliminary technical brief is posted on this page. The brief summarizes preliminary analysis and findings, but these are subject to change. A draft of the full report is available upon request.

Findings from this report were presented at the IATUR Conference in Seoul, South Korea in July 2016.


Type of Research: 
Data Analysis
Research Topic Category: 
Household Well-Being & Equity
Labor & Time Use
Geographic focus: 
East Africa Region and Selected Countries