Research Programme

Carers and time use

Alison Bowes and Maria Evandrou (co-leads) with David Bell, Alison Dawson, Jane Falkingham, Athina Vlachantoni, Rosalie Ashworth, Alastair Rutherford, Nadine Thomas


The project team have launched a survey to capture a week in the life of a carer. If you are interested please see the call for participants.


Project summary

Unpaid care is a critical element in the care and support of people in older age, yet there is evidence of significant demographic and socio-economic changes - such as increasing longevity, changing family structures and dynamics, shifting patterns of female (and male) labour force participation and changing attitudes to caring - that may affect current and future provision of unpaid care and hence pressure on the public purse.  

The true extent of unpaid care is unknown as questions on informal care provision, such as those in the recent Census, may fail to capture the breadth and diversity of informal care activities. The aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the scale and nature of unpaid caring activities, how these interact with other paid and unpaid activities such as work and leisure, and how patterns of time use may be changing as society changes. Ultimately, we aim to inform better ways of collecting survey data on unpaid care that is capable of genuinely informing policy and capacity planning, and this can directly inform inter alia, the design of the new Scottish Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Closely informed by the views and experiences of unpaid carers themselves, we are investigating the dynamics of unpaid care for older people by collecting and analysing time-use data and by developing improved methods of understanding the nature of unpaid care in survey research. This will in turn inform the development of policies which can effectively support the provision of unpaid care, helping to counteract current demographic changes which may reduce it.

The research, which brings together colleagues from Scotland and Southampton, involves both qualitative research in the form of interviews with unpaid carers in care partnerships with older people and quantitative analysis of large-scale surveys such as the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Project activities

Date Activity Description
19-21 July 2017 Presentation at the 39th International Association for Time Use Research Conference, Madrid. Rosalie Ashworth presented the paper "Carer's time use: Preliminary findings from time use diaries."
5-7 July 2017 Presentation at the BSG Conference 2017 held at The Centre for Innovative Ageing, Swansea University. Rosalie Ashworth, Alison Dawson and Alison Bowes presented the paper "Carer's time use: Preliminary findings from time use diaries."
26-28 June 2017 Presentation at the Transforming Care Conference, held at the Polytechnic of Milan, Italy. Alison Dawson presented the paper "Carers time use: Preliminary findings from time use diaries".
March 2017 Carers' time use online survey launched. The research team launched an online survey to capture a week in the life of a carer.
6-8 July 2016 45th Annual BSG Conference 2016 held at the University of Stirling. Paper titled "Unpaid care for older people: a study of carers' time use" presented by Alison Bowes at the conference.
1-6 June 2015 “Unpaid care for older people: a study of carers time use” 44th Annual BSG Conference 2015, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Paper presented by Alison Dawson and Alison Bowes.




Please check back soon for more publications from this project. You can also browse all CPC publications.


Media activities

You can browse all CPC media outputs and population-related articles from CPC members on our! page.