Study Shows Men Still Shirk Household Duties

Women still do 63 percent of the household work, according to data released late last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While women dedicate an average of almost 16 hours per week to household tasks such as cleaning and preparing food, men’s contributions add up to less than ten hours weekly. The data comes from a survey of 13,000 American men and women over the age of 15, who quantified time spent on various activities over an average day – the 24 hours preceding the interview.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has conducted the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) annually for the past three years, and its statistics show men’s and women’s time spent on housework have fluctuated very little over this period. Similar studies administered periodically since 1968 by The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research illuminate longer-term time use trends. Their findings show a dramatic increase in men’s contribution to housework from 1968 to 1985, from 4.4 weekly hours to 10.2, with women’s time allotment declining more than 50 percent over the same period, from 31.9 hours down to 20.4.

Since 1985, however, progress toward gender equality in domestic work has stalled, according to the time use studies, which show a 20-year plateau that continues with the recent ATUS findings. University of Maryland sociologists Suzanne Bianchi, John Robinson, and Melissa Milkie analyze this trend in their new book Changing Rhythms of Family Life, published this month. They note that although men’s contribution to household work has not changed significantly in years, both men and women have steadily increased time taking care of children.


American Time Use Survey; Chicago Sun-Times 7/28/06; University of Michigan news service 3/12/02; Russell Sage Foundation; Paper by Suzanne Bianchi, 12/9/05; Ms. magazine interviews 8/3/06, 8/4/06

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