April 2022

Time Use and Wellbeing

Exploring instantaneous enjoyment through time diaries

Time use and wellbeing
In partnership with

Policymaking that adopts a focus on subjective wellbeing beyond simple economic market efficiency has been central to the goals of the UK Government, as established in the latest Green Book review

The value of recently collected UK time-use data, which records the enjoyment associated with every activity and combinations of activities, lies in the potential to produce new policy-directed insights designed to enhance lifestyle-related welfare in the population.

This work, which is being conducted in partnership with University College London’s Centre for Time Use Research, will look at tracking the time-use data against instantaneous enjoyment, helping inform policymakers and other stakeholders in public health and welfare in their decision-making.

Lifestyle-related wellbeing measures

The time-use and wellbeing data were collected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and will offer unique insights into the way that external shocks and regulations effect change on people’s behaviours, and whether these changes conform to the expectations of decision-makers.

In combination with the associated survey record of the ONS4’s subjective wellbeing variables, – happiness, anxiety, life satisfaction and worthwhile – the time-use data uniquely enables the construction of lifestyle-related wellbeing measures at the individual and population level. This helps to generate timely and relevant findings on how people are living their lives, how they respond to external changes, and how this impacts their own wellbeing and that of the wider society. 

Discussion paper series on time-use data

The main outcome of this work will be a series of discussion papers, focusing on the importance of time-use data and the use of instantaneous enjoyment in wellbeing research.

It will enhance the capacity of key stakeholders in the fields of welfare and public health to provide a different wellbeing measure based on lifestyle to their clients across government and the public sectors.

How will this work help?

The results of this research will benefit people, for instance, through the promotion of engagement with activities that enhance wellbeing (e.g. physical and social activities), and the provision of advice about ways to best manage activities and behaviours that may detrimentally affect physical or mental wellbeing. 

An example is understanding how specific combinations and sequences of paid and unpaid work activities are related to different levels of happiness, can help in designing healthier working schedules for time-vulnerable groups at times of social restriction, such as lone parents.

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