The improvement of social cohesion is a crucial goal for any society. A cohesive society means a higher level of well-being for its members. The core components of social cohesion are social inclusion, social capital and social mobility.
Leisure time and social interactions as quality-of-life indicators
An individual’s quality of life entails different dimensions and should be assessed by focusing on specific spheres of life. Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi (2009) conclude in their report that gross domestic product (GDP) is an insufficient indicator for measuring social development and quality of life. They claim that subjective indicators are as relevant as objective indicators in quality-of-life measurements. Among other quality-of-life dimensions, their report mentions personal activities and social connections as quality-of-life indicators (Stiglitz et al. 2009: 14). This article focuses on these subjective indicators and tries to analyse the effect that leisure activities and social interactions have on quality of life. In the context of social interaction, we also discuss happiness as a crucial subjective quality-of-life indicator – it would be very difficult to claim that a person has a high quality of life if that person feels unhappy.
Eesti rahvastiku ajakasutus. Time Use of the Population of Estonia
The analytical publication provides a thorough overview of the time use of Estonian residents and spending their leisure time. Time use differences by gender, age and employment have been analysed, as well as changes in the volume of paid and unpaid work, and housework. An overview has been provided on the time spent on different activities, use of leisure time and time spent with the family. The analyses are based on the Time Use Survey for 2009–2010. Comparisons with the year 2000 and with other European countries have been added. Addressed to users more interested in the subject.
Gender differences in time use
Time is one of the most important factors influencing everyday life. Unlike other human resources, time is allocated equally between everyone. The time available in a day is always limited to 24 hours, despite one’s income, education, marital status, sex or age. Even though higher income and various technological innovations have enabled partial substitution of time by money (Levinson and Kumar 1995), no one is able to buy more time. Due to this finite nature of time, people are forced to choose between different activities and to find compromises in the division of time in their individual and household schedules. Spending time on a specific activity means less time for other activities. Even though the amount of available time is equal for everyone, there can be a great variety between people in terms of how they use it and which activities they prefer. One of such compromises concerns the distribution of employment and household work between women and men. Throughout time, women have been linked predominantly with home and household chores, while men have been regarded as responsible for earning money and dealing with issues outside home (Wharton 2005). This article examines how Estonian women and men spend their time and how employment and household work are distributed between women and men.
Reconciling work and family life as a task for women?
Family as a social institution, although constantly changing in time, is a pillar of the sustainability of society. Having children is generally a norm in a family. As this norm changes, the role of the family as a guarantee of sustainability of the society becomes questionable. Working has an important role in guaranteeing sustainability and subsistence of families. According to the Estonian Labour Force Survey, more than a half of Estonian inhabitants are employed and spend considerable time in a week on working. People work on average 40 hours a week (full-time employees). In addition, a significant amount of time is spent on moving between home and work. It is equally important to be successful at work and have a fulfilling family life, thus the reconciliation of work and family life is a key issue. In the European context there are countries which view facilitating work and family life reconciliation as an important goal in the labour market and social and family policy and there are countries where little attention is paid to this issue. The Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland and Denmark) are good examples of the countries where combining work and family life is quite smooth. This is facilitated by well-developed public services, including childcare facilities, and flexibility of the labour market which all enable easy return of the parents who have been temporarily absent from it, also contributing to the time flexibility and work location flexibility. At the same time, combining work and family life is related to great difficulties in Anglo-Saxon (Ireland, the United Kingdom) as well as Southern European countries (Italy, Portugal) (Kotowska et al. 2010).