Husbands Do Less Housework

International Survey Shows Married Men Do Less Housework Than Their Wives

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 29, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 29, 2007 -- It may not come as a shock to most couples, but a new study shows that men, especially married men, do less housework than women.

Researchers surveyed 17,000 men and women in 27 countries, including the U.S. The survey shows that men did an average of about nine and a half hours of housework per week compared with an average of more than 21 hours per week among women.

But even more noteworthy, researchers say, is that married men did significantly less housework than men who lived with their girlfriends but were not married.

Those results suggest that marriage as an institution may have an effect on how people behave in a relationship.

"Marriage as an institution seems to have a traditionalizing effect on couples -- even couples who see men and women as equal," researcher Shannon Davis of George Mason University says in a news release.

Men Don’t Do Dishes

In the study, published in the Journal of Family Issues, researchers compared the division of household labor among married and cohabitating (unmarried) couples.

The survey was conducted in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S.

Overall, men reported performing 32% of total housework and women reported 74%. The results were based on how much housework each participant said they did, and only one member of each couple was questioned.

Men and women in Sweden, Norway, and Finland reported the most equitable division of housework, and these countries had the highest percentage of cohabitating couples in the study.

Researchers say couples with an egalitarian view of gender are more likely to share housework equally, but the results showed that even couples who viewed each other as equal partners did not share the housework equally.

Instead, the results suggest that marriage changes the division of household labor among couples.

"Our research suggests that couples across many countries are influenced by similar factors when deciding how to divide the housework," says Davis. "It's the way the society has defined what being married means, the institution itself, that affects behavior."

Show Sources

SOURCES: Davis, S. Journal of Family Issues, September 2007; vol 28: pp 1246-1272. News release, George Mason University.

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