Volume 29 - Article 35 | Pages 937–948  

The life cycle dimension of time transfers in Europe

By Emilio Zagheni, Marina Zannella


Background: Reallocation of economic resources between generations and genders has important consequences for economic growth and inequality. Unpaid work is a relevant component of intergenerational transfers, but is invisible to traditional accounts. Time use data can complement accounts of monetary transfers.

Objective: The main goal of this article is to provide estimates of life cycle profiles of consumption and production of unpaid activities. These profiles can be used to evaluate transfers of time by age and sex.

Methods: We use data from the Multinational Time Use Study (MTUS) to estimate profiles of time allocated to unpaid productive activities, by age, sex and household structure, for selected European countries. The unpaid working time is then distributed, with a statistical model, to those age groups that benefit from it, in order to estimate age-specific consumption profiles of time.

Results: We observe large transfers of time from females to males, and from adults to children. Life course trajectories are qualitatively similar across countries, but with significant variations in levels. Differences in profiles by household structure may be associated with incentives or disincentives for particular fertility choices in different social and institutional settings.

Conclusions: This article quantifies household production and non-market transfers. It offers insight into the underestimation of the economic contribution of women.

Comments: This article provides some descriptive findings that could be incorporated with other research pursued by scholars in the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project to monetize the value of time and include it in standard transfer accounts.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Stability and change in family time transfers and workload inequality in Italian couples
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The impact of demographic change on intergenerational transfers via bequests
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