July 2008 - Research from the University of Michigan suggests that being married results in an extra seven hours a week of housework for women, whereas having a wife saves men about an hour.
These findings are based on a representative sample of U.S. families and are part of a detailed long-term study of housework trends from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics conducted by the Institute for Social Research. Researchers analyzed data from time diaries and conducted questionnaires asking participants how much time they spent on basic housework in an average week. This included activities such as cooking and cleaning but excluded gardening, home repairs, or washing the car.
Researchers found that overall the amount of housework done by women has significantly reduced, while the amount done by men has increased. In 1976, women did an average of 26 hours of housework a week, compared with about 17 hours in 2005. Men did about six hours of housework a week in 1976, compared with about 13 hours in 2005. Having a family changed the picture; women with more than three children did an average of about 28 hours of housework while fathers only did about 10 hours a week.
The amount of housework done by single men and women in 1996 compared with 2005 also revealed a different pattern. Single women in their 20s and 30s did the least housework - about 12 works a week on average, while married women in their 60s and 70s did the most - about 21 hours a week. Older men did more housework than younger men, but single men of all ages did more than their married counterparts.
Study director Frank Stafford, professor in the college of literature, science, and the arts commented:
"It's a well-known pattern. There's still a significant reallocation of labor that occurs at marriage - men tend to work more outside the home, while women take on more of the household labor. Certainly there are all kinds of individual differences here, but in general, this is what happens after marriage. And the situation gets worse for women when they have children."
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