Reports 2013/45

Timeuse among women and men in different phases of life and family types

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This report provides an overview of time use and changes in time use, with a special focus on the differences between men and women, of different ages and in different family stages. We look particularly at time use among mothers and fathers with small children. Furthermore, we describe time use among older women and men, focusing on the oldest age group, those aged 67-79 years.

The report mainly describes the distribution of paid work and household work, but we also provide an overview of the time spent on other activities, such as leisure, education and personal needs, and how this has changed over time.

Looking at the population as a whole, we find no consistent change the last forty years in time spent on paid work on average per day. However, there has been a clear change when we look at men and women separately. The average time per day spent on paid work increased for women and decreased among men from 1971 to 2010. Men and women aged 50-59 years are those who on average spend the most time per day in 2010. Men's time spent on paid work has decreased in all age groups between 1971 and 2010. We also see an increase in women’s average time used per day on paid work, except among the very young, 16-24 years, and among the eldest, 67-74 years.

In 2010, women on average, regardless of age, spent more time on housework per day than men. The largest gender difference is found in the age group 25-29 while the age group 60-66 years has the smallest difference. Men's time used on house¬hold work has increased in all age groups from 1971 to 2010. Women on the other hand, are increasingly spending less time on household work, particularly those aged 25-29 years or 30-39 years.

Much has happened in the allocation of paid and unpaid work of mothers and fathers from the 1990s to the present day. It is especially for parents with younger children (0-2 years) we see changes in time use patterns. Fathers of children in this age group use an hour less per day on paid work than they did in 1990, while the time they spend on household work has increased accordingly, with an hour.

Mothers of younger children have changed their time use pattern in the opposite direction, and now use more time on paid work and less time on household work than before. The changes are however more moderate than for fathers. The redistribution of mothers and fathers allocation of paid and unpaid work is partly due to the expansion of kindergartens and the relatively large changes in parental leave schemes that have taken place since the 1990s.

The more equal division of house work we observe among couples with younger children appears to change towards a more traditional division of labour for couples with children aged 7-19 years. Still, we see more equal sharing between parents in 2010 than in 1990, regardless of child's age. This is largely due to fathers now spending more time on household work than 20 years ago.

Among women aged 67-74 years, time used on household work has declined significantly the last forty years, by more than one hour. This is the most important time use change that we observe for this age group. We find the largest increase in time used on household work among men 67-74 years.

Many elderly are able to live actively. The time used on active living depends on their health situation, level of education and whether they live with a partner or not. Those who reported very good health and those with higher education are more active than those with poorer health and lower education. Being single also seems to be associated with more passivity, regardless of the health status and level of education.

Those aged 75-79 years are, as expected, less active than younger age groups. In particular, time spent on time watching TV, reading and relaxing, sleep and personal needs increase with age.

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