Ladies, take note! Being a woman may mean doing about two hours of extra housework per day compared with a man, but the good news is that men’s share in household chores has increased since 1960, according to a new Oxford study.
Researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK looked at the time spent doing housework by men and women living in 19 countries from the early 1960s up to the first decade of the 21st century.
They found that by the first decade of this century, more traditional countries in southern Europe have started to catch up with more progressive countries on gender equality.
An analysis of 66 time use studies between 1961 and 2011 shows that Italian and Spanish women spent the most time on domestic tasks over the whole period.
Until the end of the first decade of the 21st century, they did far more than the other women studied, with Italian men doing far less housework than men from other countries.
In 1980, Italian women did just over four hours more housework than men a day, but by 2008 this had dropped by a quarter to about an extra three hours.
Spain also saw a striking fall: from women doing about three extra hours housework in 2002 to 2 hours 19 minutes in 2009, researchers said.
Along with those in Italy and Spain, women in Poland, Yugoslavia/Slovenia, France and Germany did the highest share of the housework across most or all of the 50-year period.
Across all the countries and time periods, married women, married men and those with children living at home spent the most time doing household chores.
The study shows women in the UK have decreased the amount of housework they do, while the men have consistently increased their share over the 50-year period.
In 1961, UK women did nearly 3.5 hours of extra housework, but by 2000 this had fallen to 90 minutes with a further drop to 74 minutes by 2005, according to the study.
Nordic countries are leading the way in the trend towards greater gender equality, researchers said.
Family-friendly policies pursued in Nordic countries, such as publicly available early childcare, have meant women are better supported, they said.
Women in Norway, Finland and Denmark did just over an hour more housework than men, according to the most recent time-use surveys.
Over decades men in the US, Canada, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands have been increasing their share, but the study finds progress in gender equality slowed down during periods, particularly in the 1980s, with further stalling in the US in the 1990s.
“The gender gap in the division of domestic labour is strongly linked to inequalities in the labour market, such as the gender pay gap,” said Evrim Altintas, from Oxford.
“The partner who spends more time in domestic work is at a disadvantage in terms of their work opportunities, and this negatively affects their future job prospects,” Altintas said.