Despite the huge strides made towards gender equality, women still shoulder more domestic responsibilities. This takes up more of their time and affects their ability to participate in the labour market, suggests new research.

In a World Bank study, Eliana Rubiano-Matulevich and Mariana Viollaz analyse time-use patterns in 19 countries to better understand how men and women spend their time. Using time-use surveys conducted between 2006 to 2014, they divide activities into four categories: market or paid work, unpaid domestic work, personal care and leisure, social and study activities.

Their findings suggest that women tend to spend more time on unpaid domestic work (3.2 more hours on average daily) while men spend more on market-related work (2.7). However, when all productive activities (paid and unpaid) are considered, women work more than men and so have less time available for leisure.

This gender gap reduces with education with more educated women working more hours, but still less than men. More women entering the labour force has not resulted in significant changes in the division of labour in the household. Women still retain their domestic responsibilities meaning their overall work increased.

According to the authors, the gender gap is present across a woman’s life but peaks between the age of 25-44 when marriage and parenthood prevent women from spending time at work. In contrast, there is no corresponding effect for men. For men even being married doesn’t affect time spent at work. In fact, married men spent more time working than single men.

According to the authors, these gender differentials are a result of gender norms and expectations. They suggest that targeted policies such as better childcare services, parental leave system and labour market regulations can help reduce this gap while driving development.

Also read: Gender Differences in Time Use: Allocating Time between the Market and the Household

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