Married women in the U.S. do about 70 to 80 percent of the housework. When women marry, the number of hours they spend on housework increases; for men, it stays the same. When couples have children, her housework increases three times as much as his. Feminist women do less housework than non-feminist women; men married to feminist women do the same amount of housework as men married to non-feminist women.

All this and more, including some data on Portugal, China, Russia, South Africa, Italy, Britain, and the Netherlands, can be found at this fact sheet at the blog Social Studies.

The discrepancy between the number of hours wives and husbands contribute to housework decreased between 1965 and 1995:


According to the fact sheet:

…in the 1990s, U.S. women spent about half the time on housework as they had 30 years earlier (17.5 hours down from 30 each week), while men, on the other hand, were spending just over twice the time they had spent (10 hours up from 4.9).

Women, however, still do nearly twice the amount of housework as men.

You may notice that the increase in hours that husbands now spend on housework does not match the decrease in hours that wives now spend on housework.  This means that we have dirtier houses (no, really, we do).  We also now hire housecleaners, and that makes up some of the difference.  It may also be true that our gadgets (e.g., washers and dryers) save us time.

Relevant Links

Historical examples of the social construction of housework: husbands “help” wives by buying machines, gadgets replace slaves, feminism by whirlpool.

Contemporary cultural endorsements of the idea that men just don’t do housework (not so funny in light of the data): porn for women, men are jackasses, cleaning products are for women, men do housework fantasy calendar, KFC offers moms a night off, men are lazy oafs, and porn for new moms.

Also, women love to clean: cleaning is power, joy in cleaning, cleaning products are women’s special friend, and mmm, a new washer.

And, the intersection of housework, gender, and race: the color of housework.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.