The Time Use Survey (TUS) is a household-based survey that measures and analyses the time spent by women and men, girls and boys, the rich and the poor, on different activities over a specified period. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) conducts time use surveys using the 'yesterday' diary approach. A 'yesterday' diary is one in which the respondent is asked what they did for each period in the 24 hours of a day preceding the survey interview. Unlike data from other surveys, time use data reflects what activities are performed, how they are performed and how long it takes to perform such activities. Such activities include paid work, unpaid work, volunteer work, domestic work, leisure and personal activities.
Stats SA conducted the first TUS in 2000 and the second one in 2010. The TUS aims to provide information on the division of both paid and unpaid labour between women and men, shed light on the reproductive and leisure activities of household members, and provide information about less well-understood productive activities such as subsistence work, casual work and work in the informal sector. Therefore, TUS surveys can be used for gender policy analysis in relation to employment and unemployment, services for children, the elderly and people with disabilities, and provision of basic household services such as electricity and water that obviate the need for manual collection of fuel and water for household use.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for licensed distribution
The TUS collects household data and demographic data on two people selected as respondents in each household. Each of the selected respondents was asked what activities they undertook in the twenty four hours starting at 4 am the previous day and ending at 4 am on the day of the interview. The activity classification system used in the TUS has ten broad categories which are consistent with the System of National Accounts (SNA) which underlies the calculation of gross domestic product (GDP). These include:
1. Work in establishments includes activities such as waged employment, domestic work, and looking for work.
2. Primary production not for establishments includes activities such as subsistence farming, and collecting fuel and water.
3. Other production of goods and services not for establishments includes activities such as home-based production, informal street trading, and informal provision of services such as hairdressing.
4. Household maintenance includes activities such as housework and personal and household shopping.
5. Care of persons in the household includes looking after children, the sick, the elderly and the disabled members of the household.
6. Community service to non-household members includes activities such as caring for non-household members, cooking for collective occasions, and volunteering with an organisation.
7. Learning includes activities such as attendance at school, doing homework, and attending work-related and non-formal courses.
8. Social and cultural includes activities such as socialising, participating in cultural and religious activities, participating in and observing sports.
9. Mass media use includes activities such as watching television, listening to the radio and visiting the library.
10. Personal care includes activities such as sleeping, eating and drinking, washing and dressing oneself, and receiving medical and personal care.
The survey has national coverage
The lowest level of geographic aggregation covered by the data is province
The TUS sample covered the non-institutional population aged 10 years and above excluding those living in worker hostels - thus representing an estimated 39,9 million people.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
Government of Norway
The TUS 2000 sample frame was based on the frame prepared for the 1999 Survey of activities of young people (SAYP). This sample frame was based on the 1996 population census enumerator areas (EAs) and the number of households counted in the 1996 population census. The sampled population excluded all prisoners in prison, patients in hospital, people residing in boarding houses and hotels (whether temporary or semi-permanent), and boarding schools. The 16 EA types from the 1996 Population Census were condensed into four area types, or strata. The four strata were formal urban, informal urban, non-commercial farming rural, and commercial farming areas. Institution type EAs were excluded from the sample.
The sample is based on a stratified two-stage design with probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling of primary sampling units (PSUs) in the first stage, and sampling of dwelling units (DUs) with systematic sampling in the second stage. The EAs were explicitly stratified by province, and within a province by the four strata. The sample size (10 800 dwelling units, with 3 600 units in each of the three tranches) was disproportionately allocated to the explicit strata using the square root method. Within the strata, the EAs were ordered by magisterial district and the EA-types included in the area type (implicit stratification). PSUs consisted of an EA of at least 100 dwelling units. Where an EA contained less than 100 dwelling units, EAs were pooled (using Kish's method of pooling) to meet this requirement. Most EAs had fewer than 100 dwelling units. The dwelling unit was taken as the ultimate sampling unit (USU).
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The fieldwork for the study was conducted in three tranches, in February, June, and October 2000 to incorporate possible seasonal variations in time use. Data was collected through an interview rather than allowing the respondent to complete the questionnaire, to take into account the high levels of illiteracy in the country. To promote comparability, the diary was administered even where the person was literate and numerate. Questionnaires were also administered in the language chosen by the respondent.
The questionnaire for the TUS is comprised of five sections:
Section 1 - details of all household members
Section 2 - demographic details of the first person selected (respondent one) in each household
Section 3 - recorded activities performed by respondent one in each household (diary)
Section 4 - demographic details of the second person selected (respondent two) in each household
Section 5 - recorded activities performed by respondent two in each household (diary)
The diary was divided into half-hour slots. Respondents were asked an open-ended question on the activities performed during each half-hour period. These activities were then post-coded by the fieldworker according to the activity classification system. The respondent could report up to three activities for each time slot. Where there was more than one activity reported for a half hour, the respondent was asked whether these activities were conducted simultaneously, or one after the other.
The sections of the questionnaire for household and demographic data collection also contained additional questions on issues likely to affect time use. For example questions on access to household appliances owned. The questionnaire includes two location codes for each recorded activity. The first code provides for eight broadly-defined locations plus the mobile activity of travel. Where the location of a particular activity could be classified as more than one of the given options, the option highest on the list took precedence. The second code distinguished whether the activity was done inside or outside for the eight broadly-defined locations, and distinguished the mode of travel for all travel activity.
Statistics South Africa. Time use survey 2000 [dataset]. Version 1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2001. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2011. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/tjdv-k836