How men and women spend time on jobs, housework and other activities in different countries

Average time, in minutes, spent on daily activities by men and women in each country. Credit: García Román, Gracia, 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0

Gender gaps in daily time use at different ages vary from country to country.

Cultural background appears to influence how men and women spend time in employment, household chores, caregiving, and other activities across the lifespan.

A new analysis of 10 countries identifies differences between nations in the time men and women spend on various daily activities at different stages of life. Joan García Román of the Center d’Estudis Demogràfics in Bellaterra, Spain, and Pablo Gracia of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, present these results in the open access journal PLOS ONE on March 9, 2022.

Despite progress, gender inequalities persist in time use, with women more active in household chores and men more active in paid work. Previous research has shed light, in particular, on how parenthood amplifies these disparities. However, it has not been clear how different cultural contexts might affect gender disparities in time use from childhood through late adulthood.

To provide new insights, García Román and Gracia analyzed data from the Multinational Time Use Study, in which participants tracked their daily time use in diaries. The logbook data included entries recorded from 2005 to 2015 by more than 200,000 participants from 10 countries in Asia, Europe and North America.

Statistical analysis revealed that, for the 10 countries, the largest disparities in time use between men and women were for household chores, caregiving and professional activities. The disparities were largest in South Korea, Hungary, Italy and Spain, while they were moderate in other Western European countries and smallest in Finland and in Anglo-Saxon countries, such as as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

For all ten countries, gender gaps in time spent on housework and care work widened from adolescence through adulthood, with the largest gaps persisting between ages 30 and 44, but narrowing after age 65. years. This trend was strongest for Italy and South Korea, and less pronounced. in Canada and Finland. Disparities in time spent on work activities were largest between ages 30 and 64; this trend was more pronounced in the Netherlands and less pronounced in the United States

These findings suggest that national context affects the precise ways in which gender gaps in time use may arise and diminish across the lifespan. These findings, and future research in this area, could help inform country-specific efforts to close gender gaps in activities important to people’s health and well-being.

The authors add: “Our study shows that age and gender intersect strongly in affecting time-use patterns, but also that national context plays an important role in shaping the interactions between gender and age. in the allocation of the use of time.”

Reference: “Gender differences in time use across age groups: A study of ten industrialized countries, 2005–2015” by Joan García Román and Pablo Gracia, March 9, 2022, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264411

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