A study of high income families has found that a when a working couple has a baby, the woman takes on more of the responsibilities than the man. Before their babies were born, the couples shared household responsibilities relatively equally. And during the pregnancy 95% of men and women said that both parents should share the child care responsibility equally.
The study, which appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family, looked at 182 couples, of which everyone involved had higher-than-average education. In addition, both spouses in the study were working and both spouses said that they planned to continue working after the baby was born.
They kept detailed time diaries to note down how much work they did and how long it took them. Both men and women overestimated how much work they had once the baby was born; they estimated that they had about four hours more work than usual. However, according to the time diaries, women had an extra two hours while men’s workload increased by just 40 minutes.
Before the baby was born, both men and women said that they did around 15 hours of housework every week. They also reported doing about 42 to 45 hours of paid work per week. But after the baby was born, men did only about 10 hours of physical child care every week. This involves what is considered “less fun” work such as changing diapers and giving the baby a bath. Women did 15 hours of this duty every week, which is quite a large difference.
However, relating to the fun part of parenting, called child engagement, which comprises of reading to and playing with the baby, the difference in time spent was less. Working mothers spent about 6 hours a week while men spent 4 hours. The study also found that men reduced the time that they did housework to 10 hours a week, while women did housework for the same amount of time as before.
One possible explanation for these results was that women spent more time at home and less time at their paid jobs. But the study found that this wasn’t the case. Both men and women had been working more or less the same hours as before and after the baby was born. Another explanation? Men are useless, and always have been.
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