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4153.0 - How Australians Use Their Time, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/12/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

December 16, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
146/1998

ABS time use survey shows how we spend our day

In 1997, Australians spent an average of 46% of their time on sleeping, personal hygiene and eating and drinking; 22% of time on social interaction, recreation and leisure; 16% on unpaid work and 15% on employment and education, according to ABS survey results released today.

Australians spent 101 million hours per day on total work. More than half (55%) were spent doing unpaid work. Unpaid work included caring for children, preparing food, washing clothes, cleaning and doing voluntary work in the community.

In 1997, both men and women spent a total of around seven hours per day, or 49 hours per week, on paid and unpaid work activities, which was similar to the amount of time they spent in 1992. On average, men spent about 40% and women 70% of this time in unpaid work.

In 1997, 82% of Australian adults spent some of their free time watching television or listening to the radio. Australians who watched TV during free time did so, on average, for almost 2 hours each day. Men watched TV for two and a half hours per day and women for two hours per day.

Between 1992 and 1997, the following changes in the way Australians use their time on an average day were observed:
  • The average amount of time spent and the proportion of Australians caring for children remained fairly constant. However, the type of care changed. Direct care - feeding, washing, dressing and cuddling - decreased by 16 minutes per day for those who spent time on these activities. Other types of care - playing, reading, talking and teaching - increased by 11 minutes per day.
  • The amount of time adult Australians spent educating themselves decreased. The amount of time spent by male students decreased by 40 minutes per day, while time spent by female students increased by 16 minutes per day.
Details are in How Australians Use Their Time (cat. no 4153.0) available from ABS bookshops in all capital cities. A summary of findings from the publication can be found on this site.



December 16, 1998
TIME USE SURVEY: ADDITIONAL POINTS OF INTEREST

Child care

The average amount of time spent and the proportion of Australians caring for children remained fairly constant over the five years from 1992 to 1997. However, the type of care has changed. Direct care - feeding, washing, dressing and cuddling - decreased by 16 minutes per day for those who spent time on these activities. Other types of care - playing, reading, talking and teaching - increased by 11 minutes per day.


In 1997, 34% of women and 23% of men spent time caring for children, either their own or other people's. For those who cared for children, women spent just over 8 hours (488 minutes) per day, and men spent 5 hours (301 minutes) per day. For most of this time, child care was not the main activity, but undertaken simultaneously with other activities. Where child care was the main activity, women spent two and a half hours (147 minutes) per day - and were likely to be providing direct care - and men spent one and a half hours (86 minutes) per day - and were likely to be providing other types of care such as helping and teaching.

Computers

Men (8%) were twice as likely as women (4%) to spend some of their free time using computers as a hobby or playing computer games.

Domestic activities

In 1997, 90% of women and 63% of men spent time on housework such as cooking, laundry and cleaning. For those who undertook these activities, women spent two and a half hours (154 minutes) per day, and men spent 1 hour (62 minutes) per day.

A greater proportion of women (80%) than men (49%) prepared food. Of those people who undertook this activity, women spent, on a average day, just over one hour (65 minutes) preparing food compared with 37 minutes for men.

A greater proportion of women (52%) than men (13%) spent time on laundry activities like washing and ironing. Men and women doing laundry tasks spent a similar time washing and drying clothes. Women who ironed spent almost double the amount of time ironing (47 minutes per day) as men (27 minutes per day).

A much greater proportion of women (63%) than men (21%) spent time on other housework. For those who undertook these activities, men and women each spent a similar amount of time on day-to-day housework, such as vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the bathroom (around 30 minutes per day). Women spent longer than men on occasional 'dry' housework like rearranging furniture, hanging curtains and cleaning cobwebs, whereas men spent longer on occasional 'wet' housework such as cleaning windows, cleaning carpets and polishing silver.

Eating

In 1997, Australians spent 93 minutes per day eating and drinking. Just over half of all households ate at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to the survey and almost 60% bought a take-away meal. Couples with non-dependent children only were more likely than other households to eat at a restaurant and couples with dependent children were most likely to purchase a take-away meal.

Education

Between 1992 and 1997 there was an overall decrease in the amount of time adult Australians spent educating themselves: attending classes, doing homework and job related training. However, the amount of time spent by female students increased by 16 minutes per day, while time spent by male students decreased by 40 minutes per day.

In 1997, 7% of males and 8% of females spent time on educational activities. Male and female students each spent around five and a half hours per day on education.

Male and female students aged 15-24 spent the most amount of time on educational activities. Male students aged 45-54 spent two and a half hours per day more time on education than female students of the same age.

Personal hygiene

In 1997, Australian women spent 51 minutes per day on personal hygiene activities, such as washing and grooming, compared to men, who spent 43 minutes per day on these activities.

Reading

In 1997, 37% of Australian adults spent some of their free time reading. Women were slightly more likely to spend time reading than men. Men were more likely to read newspapers rather than books or magazines and women were more likely to read books or magazines. Older people spent more time reading than young people. Two-thirds of people aged 65 and over spent some of their free time reading compared to one-third of those aged 15-24.

Men and women readers spent about the same amount of time as each other on this activity. Men read for 79 minutes per day and women for 73 minutes per day.

Shopping

Between 1992 and 1997 the proportion of Australians who spent time shopping fell from 45% to 41% for those aged 15 and over.

Women were more likely to shop than men, 47% spent time shopping compared with 35% of men.

Women shoppers spent, on average, almost one hour (58 minutes) per day shopping, while men spent around 45 minutes shopping.

Sleeping

Over the past five years the amount of time adults spent sleeping increased by almost 20 minutes per night.

In 1997, Australians spent an average of 8 hours and 36 minutes sleeping. Time spent sleeping was about 40 minutes per night longer on the weekend than during the rest of the week. Couples with dependent children spent the least time sleeping, averaging 8 hours and 17 minutes each night.

Sport

In 1997, only 6% of Australian adults spent some of their free time playing sport, either in formal/team sports or informally. Men were much more likely than women to spend time playing sport.

Television and radio

In 1997, 82% of Australian adults spent some of their free time watching television or listening to the radio.

Australians who watched TV during free time did so, on average, for almost 2 hours (114 minutes) each day. Men spent more time viewing than women. Men watched TV for just over two hours (126 minutes) per day and women for just over one and a half hours (102 minutes) per day. People also watched the TV whilst doing other activities, and this increased the time spent viewing to two hours and 40 minutes (158 minutes). Men still spent longer watching TV when all activities are considered - around two and three-quarter hours (162 minutes) and women around two and a half hours (154 minutes).

On average, older people watched TV for almost twice as long each day as young people. People aged 65 years and over watched TV for around three hours (170 minutes) per day compared with people aged 25-34 and 35-44 who watched for one and a half hours (91 and 94 minutes, respectively).

Most television viewing occurred between 6 pm and 10 pm. Peak viewing times were 8 pm for 15-24 year-olds and those aged 60 years and over, and 9 pm for those aged 25-59 years.

Most people listened to the radio while undertaking other activities. While Australians spent only 8 minutes per day listening to the radio as the main activity in their free time, they spent a total of one hour and twenty minutes (79 minutes) per day listening to radio.

Voluntary work

In 1997, 16% of men and 23% of women spent time on voluntary work and caring activities in the community. Male volunteers spent about two hours per day in these activities and female volunteers spent about one and three-quarter hours per day.

Among volunteers, men aged 35-44 and women aged 55-64 spent longer on these activities than men and women, respectively, in other age groups.

Work

Fathers with dependent children who worked full-time in paid employment, spent 68 hours and 40 minutes per week on total work - of which 29% was unpaid work. Mothers with dependants who worked full-time in paid employment, spent longer: 70 hours and 35 minutes per week on total work - 50% in unpaid work; while mothers who worked part-time in paid employment spent a little less: 65 hours and 40 minutes per week on total work - 72% in unpaid work. Mothers with dependants who were not in paid employment spent 59 hours per week in unpaid work.


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