Gender gaps remain over work time, chore time: StatsCan

Canadians are spending several more days per year engaged in work of some type than they were 20 years ago, according to a Statistics Canada report released Wednesday.

Canadians are spending several more days per year working than they were 20 years ago, but whether that increase is being spent on the job or on householdchores differs for men and women, according to a Statistics Canada report released Wednesday.

The General Social Survey on Paid and Unpaid Work found that, on average, men are spending more time juggling household chores with their paid work duties, while women are spending more time engaged in paid work.

There are still significant gaps in the division of labour, though.

The study examined developments in time spent on paid work and unpaid household chores for men and women aged 25 to 54 between 1986 and 2005.

The average total workday for people — including paid and unpaid work — was 8.8 hours per day on average in 2005, up from 8.2 hours in 1986.

Calculated over an entire year, it means Canadians spent nine more days engaged in some sort of work than in 1986.

For men, however, most of the increase came from unpaid work around the house. In contrast, the gains for women came entirely from paid work.

Men doing more chores

Men spent 2.5 hours per day on average on unpaid work around the house in 2005, up from 2.1 hours in 1986. The time they spent in paid labour also rose, from 6.1 to 6.3 hours.

Women, on the other hand, spent an average of 4.4 hours at the office, up from 3.3 hours in 1986. This more than offset a half-hour decline in unpaid work, from 4.8 hours to 4.3 hours.

While the Statistics Canada findings revealed an overall increase in both paid and unpaid work, they found a slight decrease in the amount of housework being done by Canadians.

The study defined core housework as activities such as meal preparation, meal cleanup, indoor cleaning and laundry.

Even though the proportion of people doing housework of some kind increased, the amount of time spent at it declined from an average of 2.7 hours per day in 1986 to 2.5in 2005. All of the decline came from core housework.

A big factor in changes to the work/household equation over time was the increasing labour force participation of women, the study said.

In 1986, the participation rate for men aged 25 to 54 was 94 per cent, compared with only 70 per cent for women.

The gap had shrunk significantly by 2005, when the rate for women was 81 per cent, with a slight decrease for men to 91 per cent.

Women's work around home remains about the same

The advances in men's participation on the homefront weren't quite as dramatic as those made by women out in the workworld.

Nearly 69 per cent of men reported engaging in some type of unpaid household work daily in 2005, up from 54 per cent, while the participation rate for women remained near the 90 per cent mark.

Marital status, thepresence of children and a woman's income level can affect the amount of unpaid work a man does around the house, according to the study.

For him, time spent doing housework rises along with her income, while for her, the time falls. On the other hand, regardless of her husband's income level, a wife 's time spent on housework stays the same.

When wives have an income of $100,000 or more, it was found, the division of paid labour and housework within couples is more likely to be split equally. In these couples, each partner spent about 6.5 hours per day on paid work and 1.5 hours on housework.

With income, of course, comes the means to pay for domestic help. The 2004 Survey of Household Spending found that only seven per cent of householdsthat earnedless than $40,000 paid for domestic help, spending an average of $813. This compared with 43 per cent of households with incomes of $160,000 or more, who spent $2,150.

In the current study, women reported feeling more time-stressed than men, a finding that on average held true regardless of length of workday or the presence of children.

The2005General Social Surveyasked10,600respondents aged25to54to keep a diary for24hours in which they estimated the total number of hours they spent on paid work and related paid activities, and on core and non-core housework. This time was averaged over a seven-day week.