Saturday, June 30, 2012

Unpaid labor - comparing the work of women and men

Despite substantial gains in gender equity (including the fact that women's educational attainment is now at parity with men's) there remains a sharp and continuing disparity in unpaid household labor when analyzed in aggregate at the national level.

While 83 percent of women do some form of housework on a typical day, only 65 percent of men do, according to 2011 statistics (from the American Time Use Survey).

The survey measures time spent on a typical day, across all activity types (from sleeping to eating to work and childcare) by the U.S. civilian noninstitutional population age 15 and over, on both weekdays and weekends.

Source: 2011 American Time Use Survey and author's calculations
Across the population, women do, on average, twice as much housework as men, before childcare is counted. Men out-housework women only in the lawn and garden category.

In childcare, the differences are even more dramatic. Women perform 2.3 times as much childcare-related work as men, on average.

However, when work-for-pay is a factor, men do more work than women, averaging 3.8 hours of paid work per day, compared with 2.6 for women.
Source: 2011 American Time Use Survey and author's calculations 

Nevertheless, if you add up both paid work and unpaid household work, women do more work, per day, on average, than men do. Across all work categories,* women total an average of 5.45 hours of work (2.82 unpaid) compared with a total of 5.27 for men (1.46 unpaid).

Somewhat surprisingly, the results of the Time Use Survey also show that women have an edge in the sleep department, reporting more hours of sleep than men on average. This trend persists across all household types, including families with young children. In households with a youngest child under age 6, women report spending 8.7 hours sleeping per day while men spend only 8.3.

While on the surface this trend implies that women get more rest than men, the details are not entirely clear. The sleep time trend may represent more time spent trying to sleep, as women also report substantially higher rates of difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep than men.

The 2011 results are consistent with findings from prior years in American Time Use Survey.

*Note: Work categories, in this context, include housework, food preparation and cleanup, lawn and garden maintenance, household management, caring for household members, caring for non-household members, and work (for pay).

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