| Couch Entitlement Surprise—men do just as much work as women do. |
By Joel Waldfogel
Everyone from economists and sociologists to Oprah knows that women work more than men. Their longer combined hours, at the home and at the office, stop men from taking afternoon naps on the couch and cause fights that end with men spending nights on the couch. And yet according to new study, those longer hours are a myth, because it's just not true that women carry a heavier load.
Three economists, Michael Burda of Humboldt University in Berlin, Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas, and Philippe Weil of the Free University of Brussels have analyzed data from surveys in 25 countries that ask people how they spend their time. Some of the countries are rich, like the United States and Germany, some are poor, like Benin and Madagascar, and some are in the middle, like Hungary, Mexico, and Slovenia. The people surveyed were asked to fill in diaries indicating how they spend each segment of their day.
The 24 hours we all have each day can be divided into four broad activities: "market work" that is, work for pay, typically outside the house; "homework," including housework and child care; "tertiary time," including sleep, eating, and other biological necessities that people can do only for themselves; and the time left over, which is leisure. Leisure is not essential to survival, but we like it.
Throughout the world, men spend more time on market work, while women spend more time on homework. In the United States and other rich countries, men average 5.2 hours of market work a day and 2.7 hours of homework each day, while women average 3.4 hours of market work and 4.5 hours of homework per day. Adding these up, men work an average of 7.9 hours per day, while women work an average of—drum roll, please—7.9 hours per day. This is the first major finding of the new study. Whatever you may have heard on The View, when these economists accounted for market work and homework, men and women spent about the same amount of time each day working. The averages sound low because they include weekends and are based on a sample of adults that included stay-at-home parents as well as working ones, and other adults.
In Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, men actually work more than women, although the differences are small. In Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and the United Kingdom, women work slightly more, though less than 5 percent. Among rich countries, the largest differences emerge in Italy, where women work eight hours while men work only 6.5, and in France, where women work 7.2 hours and men 6.6.
A couple of caveats to all this newfound equality. First, many knowledgeable people believe that women work more. In a survey by the authors of this study, 54 percent of economists and 62 percent of economics students thought that women work more than men, as did more than 70 percent of sociologists. And while the gender equal-work phenomenon has been noted before, "it has been swamped by claims in widely circulated sociological studies … that women's total work significantly exceeds men's," as the authors put it. Although men in many rich countries do not work less than women, they do enjoy about 20 to 30 minutes more leisure per day (over an hour more in Italy) because they spend less time on sleep and other biological necessities. Men spend almost all of this additional leisure time watching television.
While men and women spend about the same time working in rich countries, women do work more than men in poor countries. And the gap widens as countries get poorer. While in the United States, which has a per capita GNP of roughly $33,000, there is no difference between the amount of male and female work, in Benin, Madagascar, and South Africa, which have a per capita income of less than $10,000, women work one to two hours more per day than men.
So, what explains the difference in the time that men and women spend working in richer vs. poorer countries? It's not a matter of women leveraging their greater earnings in places where they can earn more than men. Alas, there are no such places, and women do not reap greater market rewards in the countries where women work the most relative to men.
The authors of the new study instead think that a social norm explains men and women in rich countries pitch in to the same degree. For both men and women, number of hours of combined market work and homework varies among different regions in the United States. But the male-female work gap remains small everywhere in the country, and in this the authors see evidence of a general equality norm. For example, while people in the South work an average of 7.7 hours per day in and out of the home, and people in the East work eight hours (a daily difference of 20 minutes), the difference between the amount of time that men and women work, again in and out of the home, is only two minutes in the East and 10 minutes in the South. Similar patterns hold when you divide the data by level of education. The most educated quarter of the American population works a combined 8.7 hours, while the lowest educated quarter works 6.3 hours—a difference of more than two hours per day. But when you compare men and women in each education bracket, the difference in their total work is no more than 20 minutes.
Many women with demanding careers tell me that it is women working full-time in the market, not women overall, who work more than comparable men. This study cannot settle that question because it does not report work time separately for people with and without market jobs. But if women with careers work more than men, while women overall work the same amount as men, then women without market jobs must work less than men. Men can use that argument to hit the couch in the afternoon. Or to end up there at night.
New Survey Confirms Men Do Fair
Share of Household Work
By Glenn Sacks
Men are doing at least as much household work as women, according to a new survey conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR), the world's largest academic survey and research organization.
The recently released study shows that women do an average of 27 hours of housework a week, compared to 16 hours a week for men. Balanced against this, however, is the study's less-publicized finding that the average man spends 14 hours a week more on the job than the average woman. Thus men's overall contribution to the household is actually slightly higher than women's.
In fact, studies conducted by the ISR and others have found that rough equality between the workloads shouldered by men and women has existed for at least four decades. Gender issues author Warren Farrell says that these findings belie the misconception that our era is that of "the second shift woman and the shiftless man."
As Farrell notes, negative references to men and housework litter our popular culture. "The Myth of Male Housework: For Women, Toil Looms From Sun to Sun" wrote one major publication, over a cartoon depicting a woman juggling (and struggling) with a baby, a roasted turkey, and a house pet, while her husband watches TV and "juggles" his beer and his potato chips. Other major publications have highlighted women's burdens under headlines such as "For Women, Having It All May Mean Doing It All," and "The Trouble with Men," with one even commenting, "A woman's work is never done, a man is drunk from sun to sun."
According to Farrell, the idea of the "second shift woman and the shiftless man" was brought into vogue in part by UC Berkeley professor Arlie Hochschild's best-selling 1989 book The Second Shift. In it she wrote (and much of the media uncritically repeated) that "women work an extra month of 24 hour days each year." But Hochschild's research and conclusions were deeply flawed. For the most part she compared the housework burdens of full-time employed males with those of part-time employed females, portraying men working 50 hour weeks as lazy and selfish for not doing as much housework as their wives who were working a 20 hour week.
Hochschild also claimed that men did no more housework in the late 1980s than in the pre-feminist era, but, with one minor exception, she used data on male housework from studies done in the pre-feminist era, rendering it worthless. In addition, the book also defined "housework" to include chores usually done by women, ignoring most of the household tasks generally done by men.
The "second shift" myth also stems from the idea that today both husband and wife work what is presumed to be a 40 hour week, but when both go home at five, the woman does housework and the man does little. Gloria Steinem, in fact, says that in today's economy men have one job, but women have two. In reality, while some couples' economic lives conform to the 40-40 model, the average full-time employed man works eight hours a week more than the full-time employed woman, women are four times as likely as men to work part-time, and women are much more likely than men to be full-time homemakers. Housework burdens naturally reflect this.
Feminists correctly note that, as a general rule, both men and women list housework as one of their least enjoyable tasks and, since women do more housework than men, this shifts the advantage to men. However, while people may not enjoy cooking or folding the laundry in and of themselves, they are usually much happier at home and in casual dress (and perhaps talking on the phone or watching TV while they work), than they are in a supervised and regimented work environment. Also, while housework may seem like drudgery compared to middle-class white collar jobs, it doesn't when compared to blue collar or "pink collar" work.
In addition, both the ISR survey and The Second Shift count only hours worked, without noting the special contributions of men who do dangerous and physically demanding work. Of the 25 most dangerous jobs listed by the US Department of Labor, men comprise at least 90% of the labor force in all of them. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 50 American workers are injured every minute of the 40-hour work week, and every day 17 die--16 of them male.
Despite the withering criticism men have endured, it is clear that men are doing their fair share in the home, and have been since before the feminist era.
| The report, released Thursday by the Council on Contemporary Families, summarizes several recent studies on family dynamics. One found that men's contribution to housework had doubled over the past four decades; another found they tripled the time spent on child care over that span. |
"More couples are sharing family tasks than ever before, and the movement toward sharing has been especially significant for full-time dual-earner couples," the report says. "Men and women may not be fully equal yet, but the rules of the game have been profoundly and irreversibly changed."
_In the U.S., time-use diary studies
show that since the '60s, men's contribution to housework doubled from about 15 percent to more than 30 percent of the total. Over the same period, the average working mother reduced her weekly housework load by two hours.
_Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent on child care. During the same period, women also increased the time spent with their children, suggesting mutual interest in a more hands-on approach to child-raising.
Sullivan and Coltrane predict men's contributions will increase further as more women take jobs.
| Women aspire to be housewives - without any of the housework |
Mothers are rejecting equality in the workplace and prefer the idea of becoming full-time housewives - but not ones who actually do housework.
This is the overall conclusion of research among 2,100 British adults that says women are happy to abandon the workplace but not if it means spending all day at home cooking, cleaning and looking after children.
Instead they want to play the "role" of housewife with a little help from, for instance, a nanny, and someone who does the ironing. And unlike Kylie Minogue, they don't want to do any dusting either.
The report, by Marian Salzman, chief strategic officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide, the world's fifth largest advertising agency, describes these women as princess-style "domestic divas" who effectively exploit their husbands. "Today, 'women's lib' means wanting to be liberated from the intense pressures of the modern-day working mum," she said.
"And what we're seeing is a serious gender divide regarding women in the workplace. This time around, it is the women who want to stay at home and the men who want to keep them in the offices and factories."
Yesterday she said 69 per cent of women thought it perfectly acceptable for females to be housewives and not to earn a salary. In contrast, only 48 per cent of men felt that women should remain outside paid employment.
Her research suggested that the motivation to spend more time at home was "self-centred" for some women. "There are many women who choose to stay home out of concern for their children's quality of life," she said. "But there are plenty of others who are paying lip service to being the 2004 version of the perfect mum.
"In reality they are domestic divas who want the flawless kids, courtesy of the nanny; a spotless home, thanks to a cleaning service; and a reputation for being a fabulously put-together homemaker.
"These are the women who are becoming a target of disdain and rage on the part of spouses who didn't expect to be shouldering the financial burden single-handedly."
She said she was not talking about mothers with very young children but those whose offspring were older and in full-time education.
"My two closest friends are stay-at-home women and I have no idea what they do all day. One of them has a daughter at university and a second daughter at high school."
Jill Kirby, the chairman of the family group at the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, said: "It's very clear that women who have the choice between working and being at home with their children still want to prioritise their home life and life with their children."
She denied claims that women who wanted to be at home were often lazy, with their reliance on paid help. "We can't create a world where people just do what they want," she said, "but women do need fulfilment."
But Miss Salzman said the reality was that women with older children were increasingly becoming self-indulgent. "They look at the realities of paid work - the stress, the politics, the pressure, the dress code - and they say that it would mean less 'me' time.
"And we are not just talking about women who earn lots of money. Women who earn £27,500, or £55,000, or more than £55,000 did not want to work, and men are feeling a great deal of financial pressure.
"Women think: 'What's mine is mine, and what's his is mine.' "
And another myth goes down...