Volume 35 - Article 25 | Pages 711–744 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

Sequencing the real time of the elderly: Evidence from South Africa

By Erofili Grapsa, Dorrit Posel

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Date received:13 May 2016
Date published:14 Sep 2016
Word count:9006
Keywords:cluster analysis, elderly, gender division of labor, real time, sequence analysis, time use
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2016.35.25
Additional files:readme.35-25 (text file, 1 kB)
 demographic-research.35-25 (zip file, 2 MB)
 

Abstract

Background: Understanding how the elderly in developing countries spend their time has received little attention. Moreover, the potential of time use data to discern variation in activity patterns has not been fully realized by methods which use a mean added time approach.

Objective: To uncover patterns of time use among the elderly (60 years and older) in South Africa by applying an innovative methodology that incorporates the timing, duration, and frequency of activities in the analysis.

Methods: We use sequence analysis, which treats the daily series of activities of each individual as a sequence, and cluster analysis, to group these sequences into common clusters of time use behaviour. We then estimate multinomial logit regressions to identify the characteristics of the elderly which predict cluster membership.

Results: We find that the time use behaviour of the elderly in South Africa can be divided into five distinct clusters, according to the relative importance in their day of personal care, household maintenance, work, mass media, and social or cultural activities. In comparison to men, women are overrepresented in the cluster where household work dominates, while they are underrepresented in the cluster of the elderly who engage in production work. A range of other individual and household characteristics are also important in predicting cluster membership.

Contribution: Sequence and cluster analysis permit a nuanced examination of the differences and commonalities in time use patterns among the elderly in South Africa. There is considerable potential to extend these methods to other studies of time use behaviour.

Author's Affiliation

Erofili Grapsa - Rhodes University, South Africa [Email]
Dorrit Posel - University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa [Email]

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