American Time Use Survey (ATUS), 2008 (ICPSR 26149)

Published: Nov 26, 2012

Principal Investigator(s):
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Version V2

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) collects information on how people living in the United States spend their time. Data collected in this study measured the amount of time that people spent doing various activities in 2008, such as paid work, child care, religious activities, volunteering, and socializing. Respondents were interviewed once about how they spent their time on the previous day including where they were and whom they were with. Part 1, Respondent and Activity Summary File, contains demographic information about respondents and a summary of the total amount of time they spent doing each activity that day. Part 2, Roster File, contains information about household members and non-household children under the age of 18. Part 3, Activity File, includes additional information on activities in which respondents participated, including the location of each activity and the total time spent on secondary child care. Part 4, Who File, includes data on who was present during each activity. Part 5, ATUS-CPS 2008 File, contains demographic and occupational data on respondents and members of their household collected during their participation in the Current Population Survey (CPS). Parts 6-9 contain supplemental data files that can be used for further analysis of the data. Part 6, Case History File, contains information about the interview process. Part 7, Call History File, gives information about each call attempt. Part 8, Trips File, provides information about the number, duration, and purpose of overnight trips away from home for two or more nights in a row in a given reference month. Part 9, ATUS 2008 Replicate Weights File, contains base weights, replicate base weights, and replicate final weights for each case that was selected to be interviewed for the ATUS. The Eating and Health (EH) Module collected data to analyze (1) the relationships among time use patterns and eating patterns, nutrition, and obesity, and (2) food and nutrition assistance programs, and grocery shopping and meal preparation. The Eating and Health Module contained four files, parts 10-13. Part 10, EH Respondent File, contains information about (1) EH respondents, including variables about grocery shopping and meal preparation, food stamp participation, general health, height, and weight, and (2) household income. Part 11, EH Activity File, contains information on respondents' secondary eating and secondary drinking of beverages. Part 12, EH Child File, contains information on children (under age 19) in respondent households who ate a breakfast or lunch in the previous week that was prepared and served at a school, day care, Head Start center, or summer day program. Part 13, EH Replicate Weights File, contains the 160 replicate final weights that can be used to calculate standard errors and variances for EH Module estimates. Note that the EH Replicate Weights file contains records only for those cases that completed EH Module interviews. Demographic variables include sex, age, race, ethnicity, marital status, education level, income, employment status, occupation, citizenship status, country of origin, labor union membership of household members, and household composition.

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. American Time Use Survey (ATUS), 2008. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-11-26.

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Published tables and charts showing time use estimates for major activity categories, selected detailed activities, and selected demographic characteristics are available via the American Time Use Survey Web site.

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) was conducted by the United States Census Bureau.

The data available for download are not weighted and users will need to weight the data prior to analysis. For more information about ATUS weights, why researchers should use them, and details about how ATUS weighting methods have changed, please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.

The activity code variables in Part 1 and Part 3 are preceded by the letter "T" and include a six-digit activity classification code. Activity classification codes and examples of activities can be found in the ATUS Coding Lexicon. For more information about the ATUS Coding Lexicon, please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.

Multiyear microdata files that combine several years of ATUS microdata are available. Because of changes to ATUS methods from 2003 to 2008, these multiyear files are not identical to what would be produced by simply combining single years of ATUS data. For information on linking files, producing time use estimates, and combining multiple years of data, please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.

The ATUS sample was drawn from households that had completed their final month of interviews for the Current Population Survey (CPS). Households were selected to ensure that estimates could be made across major demographic groups. One individual from each selected household was chosen to participate in the ATUS, and this person was interviewed only once about his or her time use. Please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook for additional information on sampling.

All residents aged 15 and over who were living in households in the United States, with the exception of active military personnel and people residing in institutions such as nursing homes and prisons.


survey data

The overall response rate was 54.6 percent.



2012-11-26 Added datasets 10-13; Eating and Health Modules, and updated parts 6-9 to include SPSS, SAS, and Stata setup and ready-to-go files.

2009-11-16 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

The data contain weight variables that should be used in analyzing the data. Users need to apply weights when computing estimates with the ATUS data because simple tabulations of unweighted ATUS data produce misleading results. The Respondent and Activity Summary data file in Part 1 contains the ATUS final weight TUFINLWGT and the ATUS base weight TUBWGT. No statistical weights have been generated for the Trips data file in Part 8. The Eating and Health Module Respondent File in Part 10 contains the ATUS final weight EUFINLWGT. Parts 9 and 13 contain replicate weights based on the replicate weights developed for the CPS. ATUS begins with the CPS replicate weight after the first-stage ratio adjustment. Each replicate is processed through all of the stages of the ATUS weighting procedure. The CPS replicate weights are based on a modified balanced half-sample method of replication, developed in the 1980s by Robert Fay. For information about the replicate weights, see the publication, Technical Paper 66: Current Population Survey -- Design and Methodology, available via the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site. More information on the weight variables used in this study can be found in the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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