Women say they do most of the housework, babysitting: AP-NORC poll | Economic news


By BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Business Writer

When it comes to household chores like changing diapers, managing housework and meals, and managing family schedules and activities, many couples who have no children expect them to be. more or less share the work equally if they ever have children.

The reality is not so rosy, at least for mothers.

A new poll from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that while women generally expect to do more in their homes, Americans without children are always more optimistic about their sharing of responsibilities equally. with a partner versus what parents report is actually going on. This is true even when factors such as the age of the respondents are taken into account.

The poll asked about eight specified household responsibilities and found that 35% of mothers report doing more than their partner for all eight, compared to just 3% of fathers who report the same. For example, about half of mothers said they were wholly or mainly responsible for transporting their children, while only about a quarter of fathers said they were responsible for all or most of it. this.

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In contrast, the majority of men and women who are not parents said that if they had children, they would also share things like providing transportation, changing diapers, and caring for children who wake up at night.

Mothers and fathers had different ideas about who does most of the household chores. For example, 21% of mothers said that they and their partner would also take care of their children if they woke up at night, while 49% of fathers said the same. So, who is right ?

“When you look at the data on time use, women have more accuracy than men,” said Yana Gallen, assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, who worked on the survey.

Life can also complicate even the best-prepared plans. Liana Price, 35, who has a 4 month old baby who came as a “much sought after surprise” during the height of the coronavirus pandemic when Price was undergoing chemotherapy treatments on her hands and had a pregnancy complication, said that she had stopped working in January as a result of everything that was happening.

“Things have sort of changed very drastically. And suddenly for us, we didn’t really have a plan, ”Price said. While Price and her husband had both planned to work full time, taking maternity leave offered by her work as a registered nurse, she quit her job instead and they started saving.

Still, she says she and her husband also share custody of the children, including nightly awakenings.

“When I was breastfeeding, there was no point in him getting up in the middle of the night. But now that I’m formula-fed, we alternate nights, ”she said. “However, during the day my husband works from home. He also travels. So when he travels, of course, it’s all about me.

Experts say one of the reasons women report doing more housework and babysitting isn’t just because they do more – which is often true – but also because men are not always aware of all the work involved. This includes planning family activities and arranging dates and even things like providing children with emotional support.

The poll found that 57% of mothers said they provided “all or most” of emotional support to their children. Only 1% of mothers said their partner did. In contrast, 10% of fathers said they were the main provider of emotional support to their children, while 24% said it was their partner.

Much has been said about the effects of the pandemic on women, including many women who have left or withdrawn from the workforce to care for their children or aging parents. The United States lost tens of millions of jobs as states began shutting down huge swathes of the economy after the COVID-19 eruption. But as the economy rebounded quickly and employers posted record vacancies, many women have delayed their return to work, whether on purpose or not.

In the spring of 2020, an estimated 3.5 million mothers with school-aged children lost their jobs, took time off, or left the workforce entirely, according to Census Bureau analysis. Many did not return. A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that over the past year, one in three women had thought about quitting their job or “downgrading” their career. At the start of the pandemic, however, according to the study’s authors, only one in four women had considered leaving.

“But another thing that happened during the pandemic is a lot more jobs have become remote and working from home has become acceptable with a lot of jobs,” Gallen said. “So I think it really helps women in the workplace, because a potentially big problem is that women don’t feel like they can do some of the highest paying jobs available” which involve commutes or long hours. hours away from home.

“So this pandemic kind of pushed forward a shift towards more favorable conditions for women and lots of jobs,” she said.

This includes flexible working hours and, for jobs where this is possible, remote working. Women are more likely than men to say that flexibility at work is important when thinking about whether or not to have a child, 74% versus 66%, according to the survey.

It’s not just the division of household responsibilities that having children can upset. It is well documented that having children can hamper women’s careers, both in terms of pay compared to men (including men with children) and advancement to better jobs.

According to the survey, 47% of women say having a child is a barrier to job security in their current or most recent job, compared to 36% of men. Americans under 30 were particularly likely to say this, compared to older adults.

Amy Hill, who is 31 and lives in West Virginia, said she is happy with her home division of work, even though she does more than her husband. This is because he works in the coal mines, doing 16 hour shifts away from home. Her job, while stable, is not full-time – she does makeup at proms, weddings and other events.

“I think it helps not to be too close to each other because I miss him when he’s gone, you know?” she said. “Since we’ve been together, he’s been working underground. And also, it doesn’t really fold the napkins like I want them to be folded.

The AP-NORC survey of 1,054 adults was conducted from October 7 to 11 using a sample drawn from the AmeriSpeak probability-based NORC panel, which is designed to be representative of the American population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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