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Which Country Has the Best Fathers?

gender gap, unpaid labor

That's Dad, not the manny, engaging in unpaid labor. (He's probably Danish.)

What makes a good dad? Lots of things, not the least of which is participation in the daily grind of life. But a lot of men who may even be considered great dads are let off the hook in their countries, creating a huge gender gap.

A new study on the so-called unpaid economy (aka: housework and childcare) found that  in all of the 29 industrialized countries considered in the study, women do more of everything at home than their male partners. On average, women spend almost 2.5 hours more per day on tasks like childcare, laundry and making dinner.

The good news for some countries,though, is that the amount each gender takes on is becoming more equal. The bad news is that there’s still room for lots of improvement in terms of equality (especially if you’re South Korea!).

Research conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found working outside the home wasn’t the best excuse for lower numbers. Overall, out-of-work fathers spend less time caring for the kids than their working wives. But two countries’ men stand away from that deadbeat pack (just barely): Hungary and the U.S. (whew!)

In terms of dad time with the kids, Australia wins that contest — working Australian men spend 69 minutes per day with their offspring and unemployed ones get in 105. But that country still has a sizable gender gap: women there spend a whopping 137 (working moms) and 236 (non-working) minutes per day. (For women in the U.S., it’s 94 and 155 respectively).

For time spent on the unpaid domestic front as a whole, men in Denmark are clocking in an average of 3 hours a day (only 40-some minutes of that is on childcare. That’s gotta be one clean kitchen!).

In South Korea, by stark contrast, men spend only 50 minutes a day on anything in the realm of unpaid housework, 12 minutes of which is with the kids.

Other international stats:

  • Turkish, Mexican and Indian men spend on average between 4 and 5 hours less on kids and housework than the women in those countries.
  • The average in Scandinavia, on the other hand, is only about an hour of housework per day less than women.
  • Men in Korea, India and Japan spend less than one hour per day on unpaid domestic work.
  • Men in China and South Africa spend less than 1.5 hours per day on same.
  • Men in Turkey, Italy, Portugal and Spain spend less than 2.5 hours.

What’s interesting in China is that women are spending only a little more than men on domestic work, so their gender gap isn’t actually so big. (The grandparent-parent gap, though, must be huge!)

The study acknowledges that the way men and women spend their time in “childcare” differs — moms are doing the actual physical childcare and men are reading and wrestling.

It also shows that as female employment outside the home increases, so does the amount of time that country’s men spend on unpaid work. The amount of unpaid work for women also goes down the more they work outside the home. But there are still gaps in every country.

How’s the division of labor in your house?

Photo: woodenaar via flickr

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