Women still do more housework than men.
They spend around 10 hours a week more on household chores than men, according to a study of couples across the UK.
But the relative weight of your partner also affects how much housework you do – the slimmer you are compared to your partner, the more chores you do.
‘There is a gender gap in housework as women devote almost 10 more hours a week in comparison to men,’ say the researchers writing in the Review of Economics of the Household. ‘We also find that a relatively higher BMI is associated with a smaller share of housework.’
The researchers tapped into a database of 10,300 people aged 18 to 65, living in around 5,000 homes across the UK. For their analysis, they used data collected from 3,331 couples.
Women still do more housework than men. They spend around 10 hours a week more on household chores than men, according to a study of couples across the UK (file image)
Results show that men do 6.13hours of housework a week, while women put in 15.84hours (file image)
Results show that men do 6.13hours of housework a week, while women put in 15.84hours.
The hours put in on chores were also found to be affected by the relative weights of the couple.
On average, the BMI (body mass index) of the men and women in the couples in the study was about the same – around 26. BMI is a measure of weight relative to height.
The researchers found that when one partner was heavier than the other, the less housework they did.
An increase of one unit in their BMI, leads to an eight per cent drop in the household indicator, a measure of the housework share.
The results held for couples where both man and woman worked, and for those where only one was employed.
The findings are at odds with a compensation effect theory, that people with what are perceived to be negative traits, such as greater weight, put in more effort to compensate.
Previous research has shown that higher-BMI spouses compensate their partners by increasing the amount of paid work. The researchers found no evidence that higher BMI partners did more paid work.
Just why heavier partners do less unpaid housework, and lighter ones do more, is unclear. It may, suggest the researchers, be simply be that chores are physically demanding.
‘We find that a relatively higher BMI is associated with a smaller share of housework,’ say the researchers from the University of Zaragoza, Spain.
‘One may argue this compensating mechanism in marriage leads spouses with a higher BMI to do more housework when married to slimmer spouses than when married to spouses who are also overweight.’
They add, ‘On the contrary, higher BMI may be related to less housework, since overweight and obesity are related to a decline in physical functioning, and household chores are physically demanding.’