Working time and time use in the household


This research project (2005-2008), funded by the Academy of Finland will focus on the (inter)relationships between the working time and use of time of individuals and households, and on how these relationships are negotiated within the households. Our theoretical approach emphasises the significance of gender, socioeconomic group and time negotiations within the changing working time regime. Empirically, we will study the relations of working time and time use by using both quantitative and qualitative data.

Keywords: time, working time, time use, working time regime, household, gender



During the last two decades of the 20th century the core elements of normal working time have been eroding, and a new post-industrial working time regime has been emerging. The new working time regime is characterised by deregulation of collective norms, diversification of the length and pattern of working time, blurring of the limits of working time and erosion of normal biographies. Consequently, the overall time use and structures are changing.

In this study, we will conceptualise the relation between time and (paid) work as having five dimensions: the number of hours worked (duration), when (timing) and where (place) the hours are worked, the degree of time autonomy individuals have over their working hours (time autonomy) and work-time intensity (tempo).

Working times and time structures are, to a great extent, socially constructed and gendered. Since the 1950s, the ‘male-breadwinner’ arrangement has eroded and the ‘dual-earner’ household has become a more common arrangement in post-industrial countries. However, there are significant differences between countries in women’s labour force participation rates and working time patterns, depending on the institutional and cultural setting, the gender arrangement or working time regime of the country.

The significance of the post-industrial working time regime varies not only across gender, but also across socioeconomic and occupational groups. On the one hand, among employees in dynamic sectors and good labour market positions, change seems to signify prolonged working times, marginalisation of private life and concentration on work. On the other hand, the people who are less educated and belong to the lower occupational groups are more affected by work during unsocial hours and short part-time work.

Besides working time, our study will also focus on time use, specifically the relations between working time and time use in the households. Furthermore, we are interested in how these relations are negotiated within the households. In practice, household negotiations produce, and reproduce, the societal gender arrangement and practices, but are at the same time in a constant state of flux. Studying various household types in different life stages and socioeconomic groups reveals the far-reaching implications of working time and employment participation for the everyday life of individuals and households, and at a wider societal level.

Aims and data

Working time, gender and socioeconomic status

At the individual level, the study will ask how extensively the dimensions of working time are changing within the frame of the emerging post-industrial working time regime, and how much the working times vary with gender and socioeconomic status in Finland.

Households, working time and use of time: new polarisation?

The study will emphasise the role of the household: to what extent are working times concentrated in certain households and how does it influence the division of labour and use of time between and within households.

Finnish working times in European comparison

The study will include an international comparison between Finland and other EU countries. In a quantitative sense, Finland can be considered one of the European pioneers in equal working hours of men and women. However, less is known about the other dimensions of working time and about how they vary with gender and socioeconomic status in Finland when compared to other EU countries.

Research data consists of:

1. Finnish working conditions surveys (1977, 1984, 1990, 1997 and 2003)

2. Use of Time -survey (1987-88 and 1999-2000)

3. Qualitative interviews. About 40 persons will be interviewed

4. European working conditions surveys (1996, 2000 and 2005)