Changes in Time Use and Activity Participation in Response to the COVID-2019 Pandemic

An Analysis of Changes in Time Use and Activity Participation in Response to the COVID-2019 Pandemic in the United States: Implications for Well-being

Principal Investigator: Steve E. Polzin, Research Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
Co-principal Investigator: Irfan Batur, Associate Research Technologist, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
Project Duration: 12 months
​Project Budget (Federal UTC Funds): N/A
Project Budget (Cost-share): N/A
Institution: Arizona State University

Abstract
This research project aims to investigate the well-being implications of changes in activity-travel and time use patterns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The study uses American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data from 2019 and 2020 to assess changes in activity-travel and time use patterns. It applies two methods – a well-being scoring method and a time poverty analysis method – to evaluate the impacts of these changes on society. The results show that individuals experienced diminished well-being during the pandemic even when their time poverty statistics showed an improvement; this is because the pandemic did not allow individuals to pursue activities in a way that would enhance well-being. In general, well-being is positively associated with the pursuit of discretionary activities in the company of others in favored out-of-home locations. This explains why people have rapidly embraced traveling again in a post-pandemic era. At the same time, people desire more discretionary time (less time poverty); because the elimination of the commute contributes to this, workers are reluctant to return fully to the workplace. Planning processes need to account for a new normal in which activity-travel patterns will be increasingly shaped by the human desire to accumulate positive life experiences.

Research Products and Implementation

Scope of Work (coming soon)

​Final Report (coming soon)