A new Pew Research Center study has just been released that has particular interest to evolved parents, esp. dads.
In lots of ways, the numbers tell you what you might already know. Fathers are spending more time with their kids, and doing more housework than they did 50 years ago. If you’ve been to any of our dad meetups, read our blog, or attended some of the recent Dad conferences (Dad 2.0 Summit, At-Home Dad Convention) you may be saying to yourself, “Duh!”
What you may not know is that the division of labor is still FAR from equal, at least on a statistical basis. (On an anecdotal basis, our group of readers is probably far from the statistical average. Keep on skewing the numbers guys!)
All of the findings are based on a Pew Research survey of 2,511 adults nationwide conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 2012, and an analysis of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The ATUS, which began in 2003, is a nationally representative telephone survey that measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities throughout the day. It is sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data collected from 2003 through 2011 include interviews with more than 124,000 respondents. There are comparable time studies going back to the early 1960’s, so there’s some valuable data to compare it to.
You can read the full report right here, but we’re going to extract some of the most interesting dad data for you right now. PLEASE NOTE: all infographics provided by the Pew Center.
One of the most important findings from the study is that the roles of Dads and Moms are slowly converging. As you can see from the Pew provided graph to the left, In 1965, a dad would spend on average 2.5 hours per week on child care, and in 2011 that number has nearly tripled. Meanwhile, moms have also increased their numbers on child care, but at a much slower rate.
What I find MOST fascinating about these numbers is that in aggregate the amount of child care has gone up. In 1965, parents spent 12.5 hours doing child care. In 2011, that number has jumped to 21 hours! At the same time, housework has gone down from 36 to 28, and paid work has gone up from 50 to 58. This means that leisure time for parents has gone down approximately 7 hours in the last 50 years. Which is counterintuitive to what people thought would happen when all those time-saving devices came out.
Also very interesting is that even in this age of enlightenment, mothers still do twice as much child care as dads do. (14 hours versus 7) We’ve got a long way to go, baby! (Remember, these are averages, so that doesn’t reflect what goes on in a particular household, such as yours or mine.)
VIEWS HAVE CHANGED
Part of the survey is talking about what people’s world view is (ie. what they think would be the best thing to do). A fascinating statistic is this graph to the right. In the last 3 years, fathers were much more willing to accept that women would work at least part of the time (43% in 2009, 57% in 2012.) That gain is at the expense of traditionalists who believe that mothers shouldn’t work.
Implicit in this number is the idea that fathers should also have to pick up the slack.
(Remember, Moms are doing on average twice as much child care as dads, so this split seems to be right )
And perhaps a little surprisingly, when asked whether or not they’d like to stay home with their children, mothers and fathers answer the question nearly identically. Approximately 50% of working mothers or fathers (52% mothers, 48% fathers) would prefer to stay home with the children if they didn’t need the money.
SELF-RATING: FATHERS RATE THEMSELVES LOWER
Another really interesting statistic is that while, in general, parents rate themselves as doing an excellent or very good job as parents (see graphic on right), fathers are more critical of themselves as parents (or perhaps they are not doing so great a job? I’d prefer to think the former)
Working mothers are even less critical than moms not doing paid work. (They don’t seem to have this data for working vs. non-working fathers) Is it that moms with kids who work cut themselves more slack? Are they better parents, on average?
Those questions aren’t quite answered in this survey, but it will be interesting to see in a couple of years how things are changing!
You can read the full report right here.
If you are looking for another interesting group of studies (that mostly corroborates the Pew findings) check out Boston College Center For Work & Family’s New Dad study, which over the last three years has been studying At-Home Dads. Their latest, The New Dad: Right At Home came out in June 2012.