Friday, September 28, 2007

Do women work harder?

At the recent ACE meetings I attended, a prominent economist (Christopher Pissarides) asserted in one session that he had found that in developed countries (other than Denmark) women work harder in total (in the paid workforce and in the home) than men. It was a claim that interested me so I have been checking it out. At least one prominent NBER study refutes it overall. There are in fact quite a few countries where men work harder – notably the US – where everyone tends to work quite hard. Women do more work in the home but men make up for it in the paid workforce.

Women might feel they have less free time but when they are not working they tend to sleep whereas men watch TV or do other things. This may change the perception that women have less free time.

An interesting observation is that the richer the country the smaller the gap between hours worked by men and women.

Mark Richardson at Oz Conservative cites the Australian evidence – except for women with children aged less than 5 years men work harder. The attached comments to Mark's post contains data sources.


conrad said...

You can call me sexist, but I think there are qualitative differences between what people do at work and what they do at home (does playing with your kids count? does cooking dinner count? what happens if I'm disgusting and my partner isn't -- are they working for me cleaning the place?). I'm therefore not convinced at how meaningful adding the two together really means (nor exactly how to define the second).

hc said...

I agree and that is the basis for complaints both from men and women. Men claim women don't have to spend as much time as they do sitting in traffic jams, women claim they spend more on family organisation issues.

Bettina Arndt in the Oz Conservative link suggests we shouldn't get to hung up on small differences in workloads - that isn't what marriage is about. But it is interesting to note where big differences occur.

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