Patterns of Time Use of People Age 55 to 64 Years Old: Some Cross-National Comparisons

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This paper examines the patterns of time use of adults age 55 to 64 years old in six countries: Austria, Canada, Finland, Italy, Sweden, and the United States. It examines the discontinuity in daily activities by employment status and gender.

The paper uses nationally representative samples from time use surveys carried out in each country. We compute aggregate patterns of time use by employment status and gender for seven categories of activities: personal activities, paid work, unpaid work, housework, social leisure, active leisure, and passive leisure. We also compute dissimilarity indices to measure the degree of discontinuity in patterns of time use by employment status and gender.

We find that the pattern of time use of non-employed adults resemble that of full-time employed people on their non-workdays. We also find evidence that the transition out of the labor force is associated with a convergence in pattern of time use of men and women in the USA, Canada, and Finland, but not in other countries.

There appears to be continuities in the way people use their time as they grow older and retire from the labor force. We however raise the possibility that these results may hold only for the ‘young-old’. Decreasing health and physical endurance at older ages may introduce significant discontinuities in patterns of time at a later stage of the life-cycle. Our future work will examine the impact of health and daily limitation on patterns of time use at older ages.