Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Understanding Blocks of Time Use

I discussed student time use with one of my professors several weeks ago. He mentioned the importance of considering how time is allocated across activities in sequence. For some individuals, study-time may be interrupted by other activities, whereas other individuals may avail of contiguous study sessions. This could affect how study time affects academic achievement. Another nuance of study time that was recently mentioned on the blog is the degree of attention exercised during study-time; this also has implications for academic achievement. While the scheduling of study-time could be investigated using the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM), measuring the degree of attention exercised during study is more challenging.

A recent NBER paper (Increasing Marginal Value of Time in Recreation - Raymond B. Palmquist, Daniel J. Phaneuf, V. Kerry Smith) considers the scheduling of time use in "blocks". They focus on leisure time and begin with the premise that leisure activities usually take place in discrete blocks of time that are surrounded by time devoted to other commitments (i.e. non-contiguous scheduling). An economic insight is that it can be costly to transfer time between blocks. They suggest that traditional methods for valuing time using labour markets miss important considerations (due to the costs of transferring between blocks of time).

The Palmquist, Phaneuf, and Smith paper uses non-employment time commitments to infer the shadow value of time spent in recreation. They use a survey that elicited revealed and stated preference data on household time allocation. The results from their work support the hypothesis that there is an increasing marginal value of time for recreation as the block of time increases.

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