Housework

HOUSEWORK….The BBC reports today that men are slobs and women are neatniks. You can see the quantitative results on the right, and Jessica Valenti and Matt Yglesias have the usual comments to make.

But I was curious about why the total hours of housework goes up so dramatically for couples (two people shouldn’t require twice the hours of housework as one person, should they?). Was this due to the presence of children or did they control for that? So I went looking for the paper itself, and eventually found an earlier version of the research here. Unfortunately, it was so crammed with formidable looking equations that I quickly gave up.

However, if you scroll down to Table 2, you’ll find something that makes the basic results a little more understandable: men in couples do less housework than women, but they also do way more work outside the house (44 hours vs. 31 hours on average). Women’s work outside the home declines when they become part of a couple, and my guess is that men’s work outside the home increases (though, oddly, Table 2 doesn’t actually provide this data directly). The total amount of leisure time reported within couples is 128 for women vs. 124 for men. The guys aren’t quite so lazy after all!

Now, the author warns us to be careful with this data, since time spent with children is sometimes coded as housework and sometimes coded as leisure, and it’s not always clear which is which. And overall, there’s not much question that men rarely do their fair share of housework: I’ll bet that if the author controlled for hours worked outside the home, men would still report fewer hours of housework than women. Still, if you’re going to report this stuff, shouldn’t you report the full picture?

UPDATE: Scott Lemieux adds, “Read your Betty Friedan!” Though I’m paraphrasing a bit here….