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Days of our lives: time use and transitions over the life course


This study provides a detailed analysis of findings based on the 1998 General Social Survey on Time Use, with some analysis of trends over time using the 1986 and 1992 time use surveys. It addresses the question of how life transitions affect time use patterns and quality of life indicators.

Like other resources, time is finite. Unlike other resources, time is shared equally by everyone. The trade-offs people make between competing activities depend largely on the nature of their roles and obligations at each stage of life. These trade-offs say a great deal about a person's lifestyle, preferences and choices, or lack of choice. However, the life cycle has lost the uniformity and formality that it once had. Life-course patterns are now more diverse, and the transitions themselves are more likely to be experienced as extended and complex processes rather than as distinct events. Thus, it becomes important to study the impact of various life transitions on time use and quality of life.

This study examines the following life transitions, with a focus on a comparison of the experiences of women and men:
- transition from school to employment
- transitions related to union formation and parenthood
- transition to retirement
- transitions associated with aging: widowhood and changes in living arrangements

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