Parents’ Time Spent on Paid Work and Unpaid Housework and Child Care Combined
AEI-Brookings recently issued a report on paid medical leave. I found one of the figures in the paper to be especially interesting:
Click to embiggen or to show the entire graph. (You should see four columns in the graph.)
Good Father’s Day post.
It’s even better for Mother’s Day.
Interesting that the plot shows that Housework has had the most time taken from it (combining both mother and father). Since 1965 is the source year, you can assign the wringer washer as the cause, as automatic washers were common in 1965. Now of course I do suspect less Ironing is done.
Why did you not show the mother’s statistics from 2015?
Reading from the chart, approximately:
Paid Work Housework Childcare Total
2015 61 29 16 106
1965 50 41 11 102
Paid Work Housework Childcare Total
11 -12 5 +4
Paid Work Housework Childcare Total
22% -29% 45% +4%
I’m not sure what’s so interesting about this… women entered the work force to increase family incomes which all economists and BLS have known welll, and housework took a hit with automated methods of some things.. dishwashers, automatic washers, no more wringers & hang drying, self clean ovens (to a degree), larger refrigerators (fewer grocery shopping trips), no more diapers to wash.. Of course much of the increased family income also went to pay for these housework time savings features.
This is and has been standard knowledge. What’s the interesting part?
My mom had a baby when I was 14, and guess who had to do the diapers? For those that don’t know the procedures:
1. If poopy then hand rinse in the toilette first
2.Throw into bucket with water in it.. .keep the lid on tight.
3. When bucket was full enough, throw into washer
4. Use wringer to wring out the soapy water on 1st soap cycle
5. Repeat with 2nd soap cycle… with lots of bleach both times
6 Use wringer to wring out after 2nd soap cycle.
7.Fill washer for 1st rinse cycle
8. Use wringer out after 1st rinse cycle
9. Drain and fill again for 2nd rinse cycle
10. Use wringer again.
11. Do 3rd rinse cycle (unless I could get away from it by cheating)
12. Use wringer final time after 3rd rinse cycle
13 Fill wicker hand carrying basket with the rinsed and wrung diapers
14 Carry outside (winter or summer) and hang on line with wooden clothes pins.. which were still on the clothes line from the last time (hopefully.. but you always took extra’s with you just in case).
15. When dry, take from clothes line, fold over once, place carefully in basket.
16 Carry back into house (in my case up two flights of stairs).
17. Now fold into 4ths carefully with hand “pressing” to smooth out any wrinkles/ creases.
18. Put in diaper drawer or shelf in baby’s room.
That was one of my chores. Then there was washing and drying dishes by hand… my sister and I traded off each meal. And ironing shirts and dresses… I did mine and my Dad’s shirts and pants… that meant even my blue jeans. Shirt collars on my Dad’s white shirts were especially tricky .. no creases allowed at all.. not even faint ones. And you had to apply a starch spray to my dads shirts as you ironed them. My sister had to do the dresses and blouses thank goodness. And of course the sheets and pillow cases all had to be ironed too… my sister and I split the load. Taking out garbage was also my chore.
I made my own breakfasts on school days because I was first up and first out of the house — up at 5:30, shower, dress, make my fried eggs and bacon, with oatmeal and toast, eat, do my dishes and clean the frying pan of the bacon grease, unless my sister was up by then and if she was going to have bacon and eggs too.. Get to the bus pick-up by 6:15 .. bus loaded then or by 6:30 (if you were late, tough shit… walk to train station a 1/2 mile or so, wait for the next train, get to main train station (35 minutes on express, 45 minutes otherwise) where I went to school, take two trollies to within 1/2 mile of my school walk the rest of the way, go to vice principles office first… show him train stub (with time stamped by conductor) and get his note t get into the 1st class of the day half an hour or even into the 2nd class of the day… absence from class is unexcused tardy.
This was standard in the 1960’s … normal every-day life for a teen-ager far as I could tell… it was the same with my friends… though some had more sisters than I did and no new baby in the family so they had a bit more free time than I did, but not much… parents kept us busy enough to keep us from getting into too much trouble… though we always had time for trouble (we were teen-agers.. it was our job… rights of passage so to speak).
Sometimes I could get out of the diaper chore and sometimes only had to do part of it, but mostly not. I sometimes got out of ironing my Dads shirts.. but not anything else.
Oh, and of course there was baby-sitting my baby brother when my parents went out. My sister and I traded .. sometimes with payments (allowances, or other income for the trade)
My wife grew up similarly.. one of three sisters so between them they did more housework (& cooking) than my sister and I.
Click on the table to embiggen. It will show all four columns.
I made a prediction to myself of how four of the readers would respond, assuming they did respond. Your comment puts my prediction at one for one though I fear mentioning my thought experiment early may reduce its likelihood of coming true.
In answer to your question, I will mention just two interesting things. There are plenty more.
First, look at the “Fathers – Mothers” in 1965. Then look at “Fathers – Mothers” in 2015.
Second, you’ve heard a narrative compatible with the 1965 bars your whole life. Have you ever heard a narrative compatible with the 2015 bars? I had a pretty good idea of what 2015 looked like, but I have never, ever heard it stated.
This isn’t the immediate source of the data in the schedule, but it should be representative of the categories involved:
An interesting item under child-care activities is “education related activities” which increases substantially for the population of non-working parents (both mothers and fathers, in this sample of married parents).
That could be part of the key to understanding what is going on in this data-set.
I’m also legitimately shocked how much television people watch. I pretty much don’t watch TV. My partner also used to not watch television, but since we have been a household she watches a lot of TV (Russian junk from an IPTV provider), but in terms of time actually in front of a television paying attention to it, still watches less than what is shown in these charts.
I cannot imagine living in a household where anyone is watching 3.7 hours of TV per day, even if they don’t have a job.
That seems like the fast road to being a Trump voter.
I would say that both my mother and my mother-in-law watch that much TV and more. One voted for Trump, the other for Clinton. (The one with the PhD in Biology voted for Trump. The one with the B.A. in Music Education voted for Clinton.)
Mr. Kimel, apparently you don’t keep up with details reported by BLS or other economists over time or you fail to be interested enough to find out how women entering the work force has changed more than the workforce stats….until somebody spoon feeds it to you several years later.
The most obvious of all or any question when a huge proportion of women enter the work force is “gee.. .how does that effect households?” besides household incomes. or with male prime age employment rates dropping… “gee,, is that maybe why women might have a greater incentive to go to work?” So if you’re the slightest bit curious it doesn’t take a lot of effort tto look up the BLS info that’s available on the web.
It’s only interesting to those that are poorly informed… but an economist shouldn’t have that excuse.
There has been a lot of research in sociology on this topic. The authors of this study (Bianchi/Robinson/Milkie) are major figures, but the exact way to measure these trends continues to be debated. Some things to point out:
These numbers are averages, but there is in fact considerable variation.
One source of variation is age of the child. Mothers labor considerably more than fathers during the period when the child is under 2 (the most labor-intensive period).
As the graph would indicate, when mothers and fathers have an equal amount of paid labor, this typically translates into women working more total hours. However, unemployed/part time mothers of teenage children do tend to work fewer hours than men.
There is debate about both work intensity and the quality of free time. Some research has shown that women’s leisure time tends to be mingled with household work, while men’s isn’t.
Some things I would draw from the graph: (i) many people are doing more work than they used to (ii) there remain gender differences, with men doing more paid work and women more unpaid work (iii) men are doing a higher proportion of household/childcare work than they used to.
welcome to Angry Bear. 1st comments go through moderation just to weed out the spam, Nice comment.