Unpaid Care Work Among Utah Women

The following post is adapted from the Research Snapshot Unpaid Care Work Among Utah Women, published June 5, 2017. To see all referenced sources please view the full Snapshot on our website

Utah women spend an average of 5.55 hours per day in unpaid work vs. 3.22 hours per day for Utah men.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the monetary value of women’s unpaid work is estimated to be $10 trillion each year,2 and women worldwide spend a significantly larger portion of their time than men performing this critical work. This happens for many reasons, including personal values and choices, cultural and social norms, unconscious biases, and specific economic and employment considerations.

Unpaid Care Work Statistics

On average, women worldwide spend between 3–6 hours per day on unpaid work, whereas men spend between 30 minutes to 2 hours per day. The gap between men’s and women’s hours spent on such work is lowest in North America and Europe and highest in the Middle East/North Africa and South Asia regions. In general, the amount of time women spend on unpaid care work varies from twice as much to ten times more than men, depending on region and other factors.5 According to American Time Use Survey tables, U.S. women who participate in unpaid work average 4.92 hours per day vs. 3.79 hours per day for U.S. men. The gap in Utah is wider: Utah women spend 5.55 hours per day in unpaid work vs. 3.22 hours for Utah men.

Factors Surrounding Gender Gaps in Unpaid Work

Many factors contribute to the gender disparity in the amount of time men and women spend doing unpaid care work. Countries where traditional gender norms are still deeply entrenched, including many developing nations, have some of the highest differences in the amount of unpaid care work performed by women and men. The gap can begin early: girls spend 30% more time on unpaid work than boys.17 In the United States, girls spend an average of two hours more per week on household duties than boys, and when boys do chores they are more likely than girls to be paid.18 These early gaps can interfere with girls’ education and establish long-standing patterns.

Efforts to Promote Equal Distribution of Care Work

Numerous individuals, organizations, and advocates have suggested means by which unpaid care work can be more equally distributed between men and women in Utah, particularly
when women are working for pay as well. Efforts to promote and legislate more generous leave policies (including paid family leave) would allow parents the freedom to prioritize family over work for a time and thus reduce the burden of the “second shift” for many new parents or other caregivers. Increased access to affordable childcare would also create opportunities for women who want or need to pursue their professional lives more fully. To encourage such policy initiatives, forward-thinking companies in the private sector can lead the way in creating
innovative and affordable solutions for families trying to navigate the responsibilities of paid and unpaid work. Of course, any of these efforts would help women who are most heavily burdened: female heads of households, nearly half of whom live in poverty and carry the entire load of both paid and unpaid work in a family.30 Finally, more open discussion of the benefits of rethinking cultural norms could educate men on the value of willingly taking a larger share of unpaid care work.

Read more of the Snapshot Unpaid Care Work Among Utah Women

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