March 13, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

Since the 1960s, men’s contribution to housework and childcare has doubled from 15 to 30 percent in western nations.Men are increasingly sharing housework and childcare in the Western world, especially when their partners work long hours, according to a new report by Israeli and American researchers.

The discussion paper, co-authored by Prof. Oriel Sullivan of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and Prof. Scott Coltrane of the University of California Riverside, reports that over the last 30 years marital equality is increasing: more couples are sharing family tasks than ever before, especially among full-time dual-earner couples.

“Most previous literature on the division of family work began with the naive assumption that the massive gender rearrangements that began in the late 1960s would, unlike any other major social transformation in history, have instantaneous results,” said Sullivan, from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at BGU.

“Our ongoing studies of couple relationships reveal instead that change has been continuous and significant, not merely in younger couples who begin their relationship with more flexible ideas about gender, but also in older couples where the wife has worked long enough to change her husband’s values and behaviors.

“Men and women may not be fully equal yet, but the rules of the game have been profoundly and irreversibly changed,” he added.

The researchers, who are affiliated with the Council on Contemporary Families, found that in the US, men’s absolute and proportionate contribution to household tasks increased substantially over the past three decades, dramatically lessening the burden on women.

Studies show that from the 1960s to the 21st century, men’s contribution to housework has doubled, increasing from about 15 to more than 30 percent of the total.

The most dramatic increase in men’s contributions has been in childcare. Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent caring for their children, and fathers in two-parent households now spend more time with co-resident children than at any time since comparable data was collected.

The study also found that this trend towards sharing the responsibilities of both work life and family life are occurring in much of the Western industrial world.

“We believe that increases in men’s involvement in family work are part of an ongoing,rather than a stalled revolution, and are likely to continue as more women join the labor force,” said Sullivan.

“Men share more family work if their female partners are employed more hours, earn more money, and have spent more years in education. Moreover, all these trends are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. With greater belief in gender equality and more equal sharing of tasks comes the possibility for more equal and open negotiation about who does what in families.”

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