The global gender gap in time spent on fun stuff versus grunt work

Practice makes perfect.
Practice makes perfect.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
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In the United States, men are doing more child care and housework than ever before—an average of 16 hours a week in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. But that remains around half of what women do, at 33 hours a week.

This seems to be a global truth. In every country tracked by the OECD, even those dreamy, progressive Nordic countries where men have substantial paternity leave, women do a lot more unpaid work (routine housework, shopping, child care) than men. Meanwhile, men spend more time than women playing sports, eating and drinking, and watching TV.

The data compiled by the OECD found that Indian, Mexican, and Portuguese men are the least helpful when it comes to housework. Danish men take top ranking for being useful at home, though they still don’t close the gap with Danish women.

When it comes to time spent on well-being, including eating and drinking, sleeping, and personal care, the gap between the sexes is much smaller. Not surprisingly, French and Italian women and men spend a lot of time on how they look (it shows—they usually look great). French women take top marks for the daily time spent on personal care, with a whopping 113 minutes, compared with 70 minutes for American women.

True to stereotype, Americans are fast eaters, while the French take their time. French men and women spend over two hours a day (133 minutes) eating and drinking, double the time spent by Americans (62 minutes), the quickest eaters and drinkers in the OECD.

When it comes to athletics, Spaniards are the sportiest, the French are too busy primping, and the Germans have the smallest gender gap in time spent working up a sweat.

In every country, men have more leisure time, which they seem to take while women are doing unpaid housework. Norwegian women spend the most time playing sports, relaxing in front of the TV, or entertaining friends compared with women in other countries, at 366 minutes a day, followed by Belgian women, at 346 minutes. Belgian men win the category for most leisure time overall, at 394 minutes a day, with Greek and Norwegian men following (393 and 370, respectively).

Hungarian men and women love their TV, as do Australians and Americans. The French, perhaps, are too busy trying to looking good to spend as much time looking at the television.

The data are taken from national time-use surveys, based on nationally representative samples of between 4,000 and 20,000 people.