Women still keep the home fires burning

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Australian women are still doing dramatically more housework than their boyfriends and husbands, new data from Australia’s most comprehensive household survey has revealed.

The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), produced by the University of Melbourne, analyzed how much time couples spent doing unpaid work.

The data found women completed roughly 16 hours housework per week, more than double the amount performed by men (see right).

They also spent more time caring for children, running domestic errands and babysitting. Men were more likely to be found toiling outdoors, and still spend substantially more time in paid employment.

The report’s editor, Associate Professor Roger Wilkins from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research, said the results showed clear differences persisted between men and women in paid and unpaid working time.

“These figures show that while women are doing less housework over time and men are doing more, the gap is still substantial.”

“Women continue to be the unheralded workers of the Australian economy,” he said.

The HILDA data also shows that both men and women are spending more time caring for the elderly, potentially reflecting the impact of Australia’s ageing population.

Associate Professor Wilkins said the amount of time both sexes spend working (paid and unpaid) meant they were "Australia's economic powerhouses", working in excess of 70hours per week (paid and unpaid).

HILDA is Australia’s only large-scale nationally representative longitudinal household survey. It uses annual interviews with more than 17,000 Australians to create a detailed picture of how their lives are changing over time.

University of Melbourne researchers will use the data over the next 12 months to produce more comprehensive reports on specific areas of social and economic policy.

The HILDA Survey was initiated, and is funded, by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services.

Source: ‘Time spent in paid and unpaid work’ (HILDA Report 2014, Part 5, Chapter 15)