Study: Family Chores Still Conflict With Work Responsibilities

September 30, 2003 ( - Knock on the door of many American homes these days and you may well find "Mr. Mom" inside cleaning and taking care of the kids.

In fact, according to a new study of workforce changes, fathers in dual-earner couples spend 42 minutes more on workdays tidying up around the house than they did in 1977, while mothers have cut back by that amount – in one of what the study calls “large-scale transformations taking place in the work and home lives of American men and women.”

Not surprisingly, that amount of family time – with women still shouldering the majority of domestic chores – has apparently put many Americans at odds with the demands of their jobs, according to The 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce from the Families and Work Institute (FWI). Employees with families report significantly higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than did workers answering the question a quarter century ago (45% versus 34%). Men with families report higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than women in the same situation.

In fact, fulfilling their family responsibilities may come at a professional price. According to the survey, workers of either gender who have greater child-care responsibilities report lower earnings.

There are certainly no shortage of couples with both spouses working. The study found a substantial increase in that scenario to 78% today from 66% in 1977, with such couples spending more time than ever at the office. The combined work hours for dual-earner couples jumped by 10 hours to 91 hours a week today over 1977. “Clearly,” researchers wrote, “today’s working couples have less time for their lives off the job.”

“The study finds the importance of supportive work-life policies and practices, such as flexible work arrangements, is clear – when they are available, employees exhibit more positive work outcomes, such as job satisfaction, commitment to an employer, and retention, as well as more positive life outcomes, such as less interference between job and family, less negative spillover from job to home, greater life satisfaction, and better mental health,” the report said.

The women who are spending more time in the workplace are increasingly sitting behind managers’ desks (38% of women versus 28% of men), and are better educated, with 62% of women versus 56% of men having completed four-year college or some post-secondary education, the study found.

“US employers are changing in response to the new demographics of the workplace, but families are changing even more, especially men,” says Ellen Galinsky, President of Families and Work Institute and a co-author of the study. “Today, men are spending more time on housework and on the care of children-and both men and women are spending much less time on themselves.”

The study covered about 3,500 respondents. Further information on this study is at .