Saturday, March 03, 2007

Single women do less housework

The UK BBC reports on a new study by UK labour economist Helene Couprie of Toulouse University:
And by examining information on more than 2,000 people, she concluded that on average, an employed woman does 15 hours a week of housework when she lives with her employed partner, up from 10 hours when single.

Meanwhile the men, who do seven hours while living alone, do only five when they co-habit.

The findings are partly, Ms Couprie suggests, due to influences that people have grown up with - where traditionally women have taken on the lion's share of domestic tasks.

She says that as long as children see their parents stick to certain tasks, such trends become hard to change.

Ultimately, she adds, "it is the work of social evolution".

And evolution takes time, she insists - perhaps another 20 years for the situation to really change in terms of the division of labour.
Her conclusions don't really follow from her data. If she really wanted to test whether housework habits are really based on seeing a parental division of labor, she could have looked at people reared by single parents or who otherwise grew up seeing a different division of labor.

She also could have looked at male roomates, and at female roommates. My guess is that a woman with a female roommate will do more housework than a single woman. If so, memory of seeing parental role models could have nothing to do with it.

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