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Time poverty, health and health-related behaviours in a Southern European city: a gender issue
  1. Lucía Artazcoz1,2,3,4,
  2. Imma Cortès-Franch1,2,3,4,
  3. M. Marta Arcas1,3,
  4. Laia Ollé-Espluga1,3,
  5. Katherine Pérez1,2,3
  1. 1Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2CIBERESP, Madrid, Spain
  3. 3IR SANT PAU, Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud y de la Vida, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lucía Artazcoz, Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain; lartazco{at}


Background Despite its growing interest, time poverty is a neglected issue in public health analysis and policies. The objectives of this study were: (1) to analyse gender differences in paid, unpaid and total working time; (2) to identify gender differences in the factors related to time poverty; and (3) to examine gender differences in the relationship between time poverty, health and health-related behaviours in the city of Barcelona (Spain).

Methods Cross-sectional study based on salaried workers aged 16–64 years interviewed in the 2021 Barcelona Health Survey (695 men and 713 women). Time poverty was defined as the top tercile of the total paid and unpaid work. Dependent variables were self-perceived health status, mental health, sleep time, sleep quality and leisure time physical activity.

Results Women were more likely to be time poor. In both sexes, time poverty was related to the number of children. Whereas among men time poverty was not associated with any health indicators, among women it was related to poor mental health status (aOR=2.11, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.20), short sleep (aOR=1.54, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.25), poor sleep quality (aOR=1.83, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.68) and low leisure time physical activity (aOR=1.50, 95% CI 1.00 to 2.26).

Conclusions This study suggests that time use can be an important social determinant of health and of gender inequalities in health. At the local level, in many European cities, time poverty could be reduced, among other interventions, by increasing affordable and good quality public services for the care of dependent persons.

  • poverty
  • health
  • employment
  • health inequalities

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data of the 2021 Barcelona Health Survey are publicly available upon request (

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data of the 2021 Barcelona Health Survey are publicly available upon request (

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  • Twitter @LuciaArtazoz, @catherineprz1

  • Contributors LA contributed to the conception, design, analysis and interpretation of data, and drafted the article. All authors were involved in the discussion of design, statistical analyses, in drafting the article and revising it critically. All authors gave final approval of the version to be published and LA agreed to act as the guarantor of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.