1 Introduction

This report describes the ways that time was spent in Scotland in 2020 with a focus on analysis by equality characteristics: sex, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion along with household income. The Scottish Government is committed to publishing data disaggregated by a wide range of equality characteristics so that the experiences of different equality groups can be better understood, as outlined in Scotland’s Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-25 and the Equality Evidence Finder. Understanding how different equality groups spend their time and what differences exist is vital to the design and implementation of effective policies.

Time use is discussed based on the on the overarching categories of free time, paid work, personal care, unpaid work, and non-specified time. The category of ‘other’ has been removed from the analysis as it does not provide a meaningful and robust comparison between categories.

A previous report utilising 2020 OTUS data was published in December 2020 and is superseded by this report. These 2020 findings will provide important insights into how time was spent in Scotland during the first COVID-19 national lockdown and subsequent restrictions, and how this time use varied depending on population characteristics, e.g. age, disability. The context in which the 2020 OTUS data was collected should be borne in mind when drawing conclusions about societal trends. Any changes might be due to the restrictions which were placed on daily life in 2020, and wider trends cannot be assessed until there is post-pandemic time use data available.

The 2020 OTUS utilised pre-coded activity options, allowing respondents to select the relevant activity from an activity list rather than completing time use diaries in their own words. These activities included paid work, unpaid work, free time, personal care. Paid work is a combination of working away from home and working from home for monetary reward. Unpaid work is a combined variable which incorporates a range of other activities which are also reported on separately. The seven components of unpaid work are: housework/cooking; travel; household management; developmental childcare; non-developmental childcare; study and other unpaid work. Free time is made up of a range of social, leisure, cultural and entertainment activities. Personal care includes personal fitness and other personal care, such as eating, snacking and drinking; showering and getting ready, as well as sleeping.

Further details about the 2020 Online Time Use Survey’s design will be discussed in the about these statistics chapter of this report.

Respondents recorded their activities at 10 minute intervals in time use diaries provided by the researchers. They were asked to provide completed diaries on two randomly allocated days that included, by design, one weekday and one weekend day. Throughout this report, time is reported in average hours and minutes per day. These averages are useful as they give a good indication of a group’s time taken up by a type of activity, but it should be recognised that this average will include people that do not engage in certain types of activities on a given day. For example, childcare when averaged across the sample will include people who do not have children. Therefore, average time use should not be confused with the average amount of time taken to do an activity, as there are differences between the two definitions.

Average time use depends on two factors: the number of people participating in an activity on a given day and the amount of time spent participating in that activity. These factors are combined to give a figure for average time use for the population group. Activities that everyone participates in for a short time may look similar to activities that are very time consuming for a smaller sub-group of people. This is why for relevant activities (childcare, paid work and study) it is important to consider time use amongst only the population taking part in the activity, rather than just the whole sample.

In this report, where relevant, the percentage of diary days where the activity took place is reported as well as average time spent on an activity. This is a useful measurement as it can serve to show how patterns in time use differ between people.

Only statistically significant differences have been discussed in this report. ‘Significant’ differences refer to differences between two groups which are statistically significant and is not intended to imply substantive importance (see about these statistics for more details). Comparing time use in this way provides a powerful descriptive tool for analysing how time use differs between groups within the population. While this report does not offer an analysis of why these differences in time use emerge, it provides a framework for informing future analysis and indicates directions for further research. Where a finding is not statistically significant, it does not necessarily mean that there is no relationship present and should not be interpreted as evidence that time spent on a relevant activity was equal between groups. Rather, it should be seen as an area for further research, especially given the relatively small Scottish sample size for the 2020 OTUS.