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Family Time Use: An Eleven-state Urban/Rural Comparison, 1978 (ICPSR 8240)

Principal Investigator(s): Sinclair, Robert O., University of Vermont; Lewis, B.A., Cornell University


This collaborative research project, established in 1977, consisted of a team of scientists from 11 states representing each region of the United States. The project served three overall purposes: (1) to establish a data bank for urban and rural families on time use for household, paid and volunteer work, and nonwork activities, (2) to compare time use among urban and rural populations in various geographic areas in the United States, and (3) to determine changes in family time use over the past decade. Those interested in measurement and valuation of nonmarket work use time as a factor in their models. Allocations of time between obligations and leisure are reflected in the time use of family members, as are the effects of role-sharing in dual-career families. At the micro level, a better picture of the quality of life can be seen if time use of all family members is analyzed. This approach allows the study of distribution of workloads, interaction of household members, and trade-offs that can be made in a family household unit. A total of 2,100 families participated in this survey through the use of questionnaires and time use charts. Of these, half were classified as urban families and half were classified as rural families. Variables in this dataset include the activities of family members (i.e., food preparation, dishwashing, shopping, maintenance of home, paid work, social and recreational activities) and the amount of time they spent on each activity. The data also record the condition and type of appliances and household equipment, the activities of the family seven days before the study, and information about the employment of the adults and children in the household.

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Study Description


Sinclair, Robert O., and B.A. Lewis. Family Time Use: An Eleven-state Urban/Rural Comparison, 1978. ICPSR08240-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1985. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08240.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08240.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Agriculture. Cooperative Research/Science Education Administration (NE-113)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    dual career families, families, family life, family work relationship, households, leisure, recreation, rural areas, rural population, time utilization, urban population, work

Geographic Coverage:    California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York (state), North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, United States, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin

Time Period:   

  • 1978

Date of Collection:   

  • 1977--1978

Universe:    Households with two parents and two children under the age of 18 who were full-time residents of the household, in a predefined urban or rural area in California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Louisiana contains only an urban sample and North Carolina contains only a rural sample.


Sample:    According to the age of the younger child, families were randomly selected from a pool that was developed using school census records, birth records and announcements, city and telephone directories, knowledgeable persons and organizations, and general area mailings.

Data Source:

personal interviews


Original ICPSR Release:   1985-01-11

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