Time banks are systems which measure and reward the effort people make in their neighbourhoods, supporting other people – often in very informal ways – and which allows people also to draw down informal support when they need it. In different ways, they use time as a kind of ‘money’ to reward people who help out in their neighbourhoods or beyond, and which then acts as a medium of exchange, whereby they can draw down help from the system themselves – or spend the time on more concrete rewards, like entry to sports clubs, training or even food.
This report explores the development of different a diversity of time banks and parallel currencies from across the world to understand their potential to help combat social exclusion and support employability. Using 10 case studies, it identifies the factors that make for successful time banks, and the challenges building sustainability in different welfare and socio-economic contexts. The report finds evidence to suggest that they have the potential to improve well-being and mental health, to enhance the effectiveness of public services, and even to promote entrepreneurship and self-employed business ventures. It draws lessons for policy and identifies research challenges.
This report is one of a series produced by the JRC-IPTS Information Society Unit as part of the ICT4EMPL Future Work study, that explores four novel forms of internet-mediated work activity, both paid and unpaid: online work exchanges, crowdfunding, online volunteering and internet-mediated work exchanges (timebanks).