Changes in the quantity and quality of time use during the COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK: Who is the most affected?
We investigated changes in the quantity and quality of time spent on various activities in response to the COVID-19-induced national lockdowns in the UK. We examined effects both in the first national lockdown (May 2020) and the third national lockdown (March 2021). Using retrospective longitudinal time-use diary data collected from a demographically diverse sample of over 760 UK adults in both lockdowns, we found significant changes in both the quantity and quality of time spent on broad activity categories (employment, housework, leisure). Individuals spent less time on employment-related activities (in addition to a reduction in time spent commuting) and more time on housework. These effects were concentrated on individuals with young children. Individuals also spent more time doing leisure activities (e.g. hobbies) alone and conducting employment-related activities outside normal working hours, changes that were significantly correlated with decreases in overall enjoyment. Changes in quality exacerbated existing inequalities in quantity of time use, with parents of young children being disproportionately affected. These findings indicate that quality of time use is another important consideration for policy design and evaluation.
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