While men tell researchers that they are happier at home than at work, for women it’s the opposite: they say they are happier at work than at home. In a survey conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, they found that women also reported higher levels of happiness than men at work.
Despite the reported levels of happiness, the researchers also found that women and men both have lower levels of stress in their bodies at work than at home. This held true for mothers and fathers as well, although they remained more stressed out generally than those who aren’t parents.
Mothers are likely stressed out when they arrive home from work because they are still mostly responsible for what Arlie Hochschild coined as the “second shift.” The majority of today’s mothers work, nearly half full time, and as a group mothers have increased their hours spent working outside the home by 150 percent since 1979. A record number of families rely on women’s paychecks.
Yet when they get home, women are still doing a much larger share of the unpaid work of the household. Half of women will do housework on a given day, compared to just 20 percent of men. And they spend more hours on it than men when they take it up. Men have taken on more of the burden, doing three times as much childcare and more than double the housework they did in 1965. But when it comes to childcare, women have increased their burden even more, doing more childcare today than in the 60s despite also working more outside the home.
Parents generally have a tough time balancing the competing demands of work and home. The same share of mothers and fathers report that making the two work out is challenging. And parents are more likely to rate child care activities as “very tiring” than what they do for paid work. But again, women are having a harder time: both activities make them more exhausted. Meanwhile, dads are able to find more down time, getting three more hours of leisure than moms.