What is the true impact of unpaid labor on women?
Although gender roles are less rigid than they were decades ago, data suggest that, in heterosexual relationships, the burden of unpaid work still falls on women — even in cohabitating relationships where both partners are employed.
For example, 2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that both spouses were employed in 46.8% of married couple families. Yet statistics also indicate that 59% of women report doing more household work than their partners.
However, other data suggest that since the mid-1970s, the amount of time men spend on household tasks has doubled. For instance, in 1976, men spent around 6 hours a week on household duties. In 2005, that number increased to around 12.5 hours per week.
But, in those same years, women still spent more time completing unpaid household labor — specifically, around 26 hours per week in 1976 and around 16.5 hours per week in 2005.
Still, the impact unpaid labor inequities may have on women’s mental health is often overlooked.
To examine this further, scientists from the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, investigated the relationship between unpaid labor and mental health among employed adults.
Their findings, published in The Lancet Public Health, suggest a negative association between unpaid labor and mental health for employed women. However, the researchers did not find the same associations for working men.