Women Around The World Do More Work Each Week And Have Less Time For Themselves

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Within the 34 countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), women do 50 percent more unpaid work a week while doing 30 percent less paid work. But they put in 2.3 more total work hours in both paid and unpaid tasks than men each week, according to a new report from the OECD organization. Those numbers vary, however, with Italian women doing 11 more hours of work each week and Japanese men actually putting in 2.4 more hours.

Children have a big impact: Each additional child reduces women’s discretionary time — time not spent doing work — by 2.3 hours a week, while it reduces it by just 1.7 hours for men.

The gender differences are even larger when multi-tasking comes into play. The gaps in work hours only measure primary activities, but women are more likely than men to do more than one task at once. They are also more likely to combine two chores, while men are more likely to do something relaxing while doing chores. Women end up spending 18 percent more time on these “secondary” activities than men.

All this work and no play means women are “slightly more likely to be time-poor compared to men,” the report notes, which means they don’t have enough time for rest and leisure after they’re done doing work inside and outside the home. In 13 out of 15 countries where data is available, women’s time poverty rate exceeds that of men, including in the United States.

The good news is that things have been getting better. Women spend an hour more on paid work than they did a decade ago and 2.6 hours less on unpaid tasks in the home. Meanwhile, men’s paid work has declined by 4.5 hours on average and they’ve upped their unpaid workload by 2 hours. But there are still huge gaps around the globe.

Things in the U.S. remain unequal. American fathers spend more time each week in paid work, 40 hours versus 23 hours for women, and mothers spend nearly double the amount of time on unpaid tasks, 31 hours versus 17 for men. On an average day, nearly half of American women do housework, but less than 20 percent of men do, and when they do housework women do more of it.

Fathers also get three more hours of leisure time each week. Both unpaid and paid work also makes American mothers more exhausted than fathers.

Things have also been improving in the U.S., with men doing nearly three times as much childcare and more than double the housework they did in 1965. Many more men say they are responsible for grocery shopping and cooking for their families. Yet the gender gap in how time is spent still remains.