Where in the world do women work the hardest in the home? Does this always correspond with men working the least? Has the gender gap gotten smaller with regards to the amount of unpaid work (housework, child care) that men do in comparison to women? In which countries is this gap smallest? These are some of the questions asked, and answered, by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This international organization was begun in 1961 to encourage world trade and economic advancement. With 34 member countries, the OECD collects statistics from across the globe to compare how member countries are doing in some of their economic goals.
The last several decades have seen some narrowing of the gap between the sexes. As women have worked more outside the home, men have necessarily needed to pick up some of the slack domestically. That said, what these statistics show - for the most part - is not that men have picked up most of this slack, but that women have ended up working more total hours, when paid and unpaid work is combined.
In the USA, Canada and the UK, women work an average of 90 minutes more in the home than men do, with men’s daily leisure time averaging about 45 minutes more per day. Women in the US have about 60 minutes less paid work per day than men (70 in Canada), while in the UK this figure rises to 100 minutes less for women. It is clear men are still the chief bread winners in these countries, working more paid hours per week. However, when one factors in unpaid child care and housework, plus leisure time, women in North America work more overall minutes across both paid and unpaid work, and have significantly less leisure time than men. In the UK there is a narrower gap in overall minutes worked, but men still get more down time.
In which countries do women work the most without pay? While enjoying your (limited, for women) leisure time, have a look at this...
10 Slovenia: 286 minutes per day
A recent newcomer to the OECD, this small nation in south-central Europe makes most of its money through service. Formerly part of Yugoslavia, in 1991 Slovenia became an independent country. Here, women average 234 minutes paid work or study per day (note that all minutes, including paid, are averaged over seven days even when only five involve paid work). Men work 120 minutes less unpaid minutes per day than women and have 54 minutes more of leisure time. This means that men pitch in at home a whopping 60 hours less per month than women, and have a monthly average of 27 hours more leisure time.
9 Estonia: 288 minutes per day
This northern European country borders the Baltic Sea and Russia. Finland and Sweden lie across the sea. Estonia’s population is essentially Finnic, with the language being closely related, too. This is both one of the least populated of the EU countries while also being one of the former Soviet republics with the highest current GDP. It ranks high in the Human Development Index and is regarded as having excellent civil liberties, economic freedom and education. Regardless, women work harder than men here. When paid and unpaid minutes worked is tallied, women work 41 minutes more per day than men, or almost 21 hours more per month, and have over 19 hours less leisure time monthly. Time spent in personal care, including sleep, is fairly balanced for the sexes, so women are not losing time primping or dreaming.
8 Ireland: 296 minutes per day
Over on the Emerald Isle, women spend an additional 27 minutes per day on personal care (like sleeping, beauty and hygiene). This actually evens things out quite nicely in terms of minutes when paid and unpaid work are factored in. Women work an average of 20 minutes more per day than men in Ireland (when you consider both paid and unpaid work), or an average of 10 hours more per month. Perhaps they balance this out with more sleep. Where a difference really shows is in leisure time taken. In this nation where rugby, golf, football (soccer, to Americans) and horse racing are all popular, men trade in sleep, unpaid work time and “other” (religious or community commitments) for very nearly an extra 26 hours leisure time per month.
7 Poland: 296 minutes per day
This country has been partitioned between Germany and Russia (and once, Austria) both in the 18th century and again in the 20th century. The first occupation lasted over 120 years; the most recent one lasted for 50 years, with a loss of life of six million citizens. One wonders if work ethic and cultural factors affecting choices like leisure time between the sexes were more influenced by Russia or by Germany, or whether Polish ways have surpassed those of their occupiers.
Here, women work 33 minutes more per day than men, with the largest gap being in unpaid work (women work 139 minutes more per day unpaid in the home; men work only 103 paid minutes more per day, so the difference comes from those minutes that men fail to pitch in at home). Men take 50 minutes more leisure time per day than women.
6 Japan: 300 minutes per day
In a country generally perceived as having hard working, disciplined people, men work many more paid minutes per day than women, at 471 versus 206. However, this is where the buck stops, literally. Women here work a whopping 238 daily minutes more in unpaid work than men. However, when paid work is factored in, men—though they spend a stupendous 120 hours less per month helping out at home—spend more overall minutes per day working. This is not something focused on by the OECD, which instead points out how little men do in the home in Japan. Unlike most of their European and North American counterparts, Japanese men actually work more minutes than women instead of the other way around. They take about an equal measure more of leisure time, too.
5 Australia: 311 minutes per day
Down under, women work 311 paid minutes per day while men work 311 minutes unpaid. Does it even out at the other end? Almost! Women work 311 unpaid minutes, and men 304. As in every other country on this list, men take significantly more leisure time—in this case 28 minutes more per day, or just over 14 extra hours per month. Women spend a bit more time than men on “other” (community or religious obligations). Overall, while women are spending a huge chunk of time around the home here, it's a pretty equitable set up.
4 Portugal: 328 minutes per day
Here we see the greatest difference per day, by gender, in total minutes worked. When you add up women’s and men’s paid and unpaid time worked, there is a vast difference in Portugal, with women working an extra 91 minutes per day more than men. This works out to be more than 550 extra hours of work per year, or just over 46 hours more per month (and more than 10 extra hours per week) for females. On top of this, men actually take more time in personal care (sleep, and so on), and a whopping 89 minutes per day more leisure time! Basically, during the extra 91 minutes per day more that their women are working, these guys are enjoying recreation for all but two of those minutes. Men in Portugal sure have the easy life!
3 India: 352 minutes per day
India and Portugal have something in common. Women here spend 94 minutes more per day working than men, across both paid and unpaid work. Men here also take more personal care time, an extra 33 minutes per 24 hours! This is significantly greater even than Portuguese men. And again, predictably, men have more leisure time—62 minutes per day or just over one hour more than women. Men and women in this country spend about the same amount of time on community/religious obligations.
2 Mexico: 373 minutes per day
Here, women work only 25 minutes more per day than men. This is still significant, as the difference is less in the UK and the US (17 minutes and 21, respectively). Still, by and large almost everywhere (except for Japan, on this list) women spend more time working than men. In Mexico, this difference translates to almost 13 hours more per month that women work. Men take most of that difference in time spent on leisure, with 30 minutes more per day than women.
1 Turkey: 377 minutes per day
The women and men in this country share their Mexican counterparts’ difference in minutes worked per day, at exactly 25 minutes more that women work. Men take 32 minutes more of leisure time per day, accounting for much of the difference. It is interesting to note that although women here work the largest number of unpaid minutes per day of the countries on our list, Turkish and Mexican couples do not exhibit the vast gap seen between couples in Portugal and India, where men work substantially less overall than women. In fact, the difference between the sexes was greater even in No. 9 on our list, Estonia, than in Turkey or Mexico. Estonian women work 41 minutes more per day than men when considering paid and unpaid time. Why, then, is the gap narrower in the two countries where women work the most unpaid minutes? Perhaps people in Mexico and Turkey, by and large, do not have the amenities available in some other countries, requiring everyone to spend more time working.
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