A ‘Generationally Perpetuated’ Pattern: Daughters Do More Chores
The gender gap in chores for children is worldwide. A recent study of 12-year-olds in 16 countries across the economic spectrum, not including the United States, found that in each of them, girls spent more time on household chores than boys did.
Men’s and women’s chores tend to break down along what happens indoors and outdoors. Women do more of the inside work — like cooking, cleaning and laundry — while men do more of the outside work, like mowing the lawn or taking out the trash. Previous research has found that the same divide happens with children’s chores.
“Chores are really practice for adult living, so the problem is it just gets generationally perpetuated,” said Christia Spears Brown, a psychology professor at the University of Kentucky who studies children and gender.
But there are signs that the gender gap in chores is beginning to narrow, as it is for adults. In one area in particular — caring for family members, like siblings or older relatives — boys are doing as much as girls. Researchers say this could influence future generations, with boys who are raised caring for family members being prepared to become more engaged fathers.
Boys and girls spend about the same amount of time caring for family members each day, Ms. Hofferth’s analysis found. It’s a gap that has closed from a little over a decade ago, when boys spent half as much time as girls on caregiving.
Boys are doing more caregiving worldwide. In the international study, there was also very little gender difference in the amount of time children spent caring for family members — and in one country, Norway, boys spent more time doing it than girls.
In another study of housework, using a smaller set of data, there was evidence that the gender gap in chores was shrinking, too. Boys 13 to 18 spent a little under half an hour on housework, it found, while girls spent a little over half an hour. The change came from boys, who increased their housework time by 29 percent between 2002 and 2014, while girls decreased theirs by 27 percent, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics at the University of Michigan, which has tracked a set of families since 1968.