Society

Gender Equality In Europe: Who Does All The Housework?

Despite several advances in women empowerment, it is the women who do most of the housework even today.

In the last few decades, the involvement of women in the labor market has increased significantly. In both Eastern and Western Europe, the proportion of women who are employed has increased dramatically. In most countries, a rise in the percentage of women in paid work has not been accompanied by a proportional increase in men’s involvement in the household, as many might expect. The role of women has changed from that of a primary housekeeper to a dual one or caregiver and earner while men’s contribution to domestic work has remained lower. European countries differ in the duration of time spent by both sexes in doing household chores. Nordic countries are more equalitarian in the sharing of domestic work compared to Mediterannean countries. Former communist countries have also developed different gender regimes compared to most western countries. In former communist countries, there is an emphasis on the role of women as mothers and earners but without adequate involvement of men in the domestic area. 

EU Average

On average, about 79% of women in the European Union carry out housework compared to 34% of men. Among the selected European countries mentioned in the table below, Sweden has the smallest gap between the two sexes. Hungary and Greece have the most significant gap between the two sexes.

Selected Countries By Percentage Of Men Who Do Housework/Cooking

Sweden

Sweden has the least disparity between the proportion of men and women doing housework among the selected countries in the list. About 74% of women carry out housework compared to 56% of the men resulting in a difference of 18% points. Today women in Sweden spend less time on household chores than they did ten years ago. Men, on the other hand, are spending slightly more time on household work than they used to do ten years ago. Women also do 14 minutes less unpaid household chores per day compared to 10 years ago. Men, on the other hand, on average, do 11 minutes more unpaid household work. On average, women spend 4 hours daily on unpaid domestic work compared to 5 hours done by women in 1990. Men today spend an average of 3 hours, 15 minutes every day on household work. 

Denmark

Denmark has the second-lowest disparity between the proportion of women and men doing housework. About 82% of women carry out household chores compared to 55% of the men, representing a difference of 27 percentage points.

The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, 85% of women carry out unpaid household chores compared to 49% of men. Men spend an average of 16 hours a week helping out at home compared to 26 hours carried out by women. Women on maternity leave are observed to do the most unpaid domestic work. Women aged between 26 and 35 years carried out the second-highest amount of work after women on maternity leave, who do 60 hours of domestic work a week. 

Spain

Spain has the fourth-smallest gender gap after the United Kingdom. About 84% of women in Spain carry out house chores compared to 42% among men. On average, just two in every ten men share domestic chores with their partners equally. Only 16% of men are involved in cooking as often as their partners or wives. About 24% of the men carry out cleaning duties equal to their spouses. According to the CIS Barometer, men tend to spend most of their time doing “minor home repairs.” Women are also the primary caregivers, with 87.7% of women reporting that they are the chief caregivers to children compared to 5.6% of fathers. In general, women are dissatisfied with the distribution of house chores. Only 36% of women are satisfied with the current job division. 

France

About 80% of women in France carry out unpaid domestic chores compared to just 36% of men representing a 44 percentage point gap. French women, on average, do about two and a half times more time than men caring for their children. On a given week, 93% of the women reported that they had done cleaning compared to 40% in men. About 73% of women reported that they had done ironing compared to 9% in women. On the other hand, 93% of women reported that they had done cooking compared to half of the proportion of all men. Women also carry out the lion’s share of grocery shopping. The study on the phenomenon found that men who had grown up with single mums were more likely to share domestic chores. 

Germany

About 72% of German women carry out unpaid domestic work compared to 29% of men representing a 43 percentage point gap. Even in dual-income households, women employed in full-time jobs still do more housework compared to men. Research has, however, shown that gender-based divisions for childcare and housework have experienced a slight decline over the years. In 2014, women employed full time spent 1.5 hours on household work and 5 hours on child care compared to an hour and two and a half hours spent by men in the same tasks. Women are therefore spending 3 hours on childcare and housework compared to men.

Austria

About 83% of women in Austria carry out housework compared to 28% of men. In the 1970s, the Austrian government urged that household chores should be carried out equally by both men and women. Unfortunately, house chores are still carried out mainly by women. In 1983, about 75% of men reported that they would not do any domestic work. By 1995 the proportion had dropped to 60%. The decline was due to an increase in men living in households and an increase in the number of men doing chores. Research has also revealed that young men are more willing to do domestic work compared to older men.

Italy

Eighty-one percent of women in Italy carry out house chores compared to only 20% of men representing a 61 percentage point gap. Italian women do about 21 hours more on housework per week than men. Italian women spend about three hours more on housework than their partners. A study carried out showed that 42% of the respondents agreed that men should participate in household chores. Only one percent of respondents said that they did not agree with the idea of men carrying out more housework. The study illustrates that despite the current statistics, a significant proportion of the population wants men to get involved in domestic work. 

Greece

Eighty-five percent of women in Greece do housework compared to just 16% of men. According to a report by the Hellenic Statistical Authority, Greek families remain very traditional, with men going to work to put bread on the table while women stay at home and carry out housework. Men aged between 20 and 74 years spend about 1 hour and 31 minutes doing household chores compared to women of the same age group who carry out 4 hours and 36 minutes of work. 

Hungary

Fifty-six percent of women in Hungary carry out house chores compared to 14% of men. The country ranks among the countries in the European Union with the broadest gender inequality.

Housework And Technological Change

Technology has made the liberation of women possible. Labor-saving devices have, over the years, freed women from time-consuming house chores allowing them to take part in hobbies and other activities of interest. Tasks that were carried out over many hours are now carried more effectively, taking less time. Despite the assistance offered by technology, most women around the world still do more household work compared to men. Experts believe that a lot more needs to be done to level the playing field so that women can have more time to pursue personal goals. As we enter the artificial intelligence age, more house chores will probably be done through such technology, thus freeing up more time for both sexes.

 

Gender Equality In Europe: Who Does All The Housework?

RankCountry% of women who cook and/or do housework in the selected countries% of men who cook and/or do housework in the selected countries
1Sweden7456
2Denmark8255
3United Kingdom8549
4Spain8442
5France8036
6EU Average7934
7Germany7229
8Austria8328
9Italy8120
10Greece8516
11Hungary5614

About the Author

Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. 

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