People watching TV more, volunteering less

Kiwis are volunteering less but sleeping and watching television more, new statistics reveal.

Time Use Survey figures made public by Statistics New Zealand yesterday have painted a picture of how New Zealanders spend their days, with sleep, work, watching television, eating and drinking, and socialising our top five activities.The last time-use survey was in 1998-99.

The survey found the number of hours people spent doing unpaid work for organisations was falling, with older people – who spend the most time volunteering – spending nine minutes less doing so than they did at the last survey.

Working-age people spent seven minutes less volunteering, and middle-aged people 12.

Volunteering New Zealand executive director Tim Burns said more people were volunteering, but the survey was a sign that organisations had to get more creative, to make it easier for people to slot volunteer work into their lives. "It's a concern, but it's suggesting that maybe there are other things in people's lives ... Maybe if we're flexible we'll actually, in total, increase the amount of time people spend volunteering."

The survey found women and men spent about the same amount of time working – paid or unpaid – on average six hours 44 minutes a day.

But 63 per cent of men's work was paid, compared with 35 per cent of women's.

The gender gap between paid and unpaid work was closing, mainly because women were doing 11 minutes less housework a day, principal statistician Paul Brown said.

But the time women spend watching television has also increased, largely accounting for a seven-minute increase in average time spent in front of the television to two hours, eight minutes.

People are also spending 10 minutes more time sleeping each day, but the same amount of time – 19 minutes – exercising.

The Marlborough Express