Housework--Men Do More; Women Do Most

Associated Press Writer

Men are wielding the mop and tending the stove more often than ever before, yet still doing only half as much housework as women, a new study shows.

Women toil about two hours at home for every one hour of housework done by men, reports sociologist John P. Robinson in the December edition of American Demographics magazine.

Yet, this represents significant progress in just 20 years, according to the study by Robinson, director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Maryland.

By comparison, in 1975 women spent three times as long as men on housework, and in 1965, the ratio was nearly six hours of housework for women for every hour worked by a man.


“Several important trends account for shifts in who does how much housework,” Robinson reported in his study. These include declines in the share of households with children, a smaller share of married-couple households and an increasing number of women in the paid work force.

Robinson compared the housework by analyzing studies of how people spend their time, done in 1965 and 1975 by the University of Michigan and in 1985 by his center. The shift in the housework burden, he found, results from both an increase in the time spent on housework by men, and a decline in the time spent by women.

In 1985, Robinson found, men averaged 9.8 hours of housework weekly, while women put in 19.5 hours.

The 1975 study found men working 7 hours a week on home tasks compared to 21.7 hours for women.


And a decade earlier, men spent 4.6 hours a week on housework, compared to 27 hours for women.

Men and women still tended to observe a traditional separation of tasks. Women dominated in such areas as cooking, washing dishes, housecleaning, laundry and ironing. Men, on the other hand, were more likely to concentrate on household repairs and outdoor chores, while the burden of pet care, gardening and bill paying was shared.

Things have evened out somewhat, though, Robinson said. For example, in 1965 about 98% of laundry and ironing was done by women, while by 1985 that was down to 88%. Women did 87% of cooking in 1965 and 77% in 1985.

Men did only 32% of bill paying in 1965 but increased their share to 52% by 1985.


Among the reasons for the change is the decline in the number of households with children, Robinson said. Children mean more cooking and cleaning and other housework, and the majority of that falls to mother.