Women do the bulk of household chores, especially in middle-age, study finds

EDMONTON, Alberta — Perhaps chivalry really is dead. A new study finds that women still carry the bulk of the load when it comes to household chores.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada analyzed data on over 900 Canadians from the Edmonton Transitions Study, a longitudinal survey that tracks participants from adolescence to adulthood.

Vintage image of woman cooking
A new study finds that despite greater efforts at gender equality, a new study finds that women still do the majority of chores around the house.

Participants who cohabitated with their partner were examined at three distinct points— age 25, age 32, and age 43— as the researchers looked at how household tasks were delegated across these life stages, and how one’s responsibilities were influenced by work hours, income, marital status, and childrearing.

In conducting their inquiry, the researchers expected to find that partners were not just influenced by their own internal or biological development, but by their various external circumstances.

It turns out that women, no matter what, tend to take the most responsibility for household duties, regardless of age.

“Women consistently perform more housework than men do,” says lead author Rebecca Horne in a press release. “Patterns of housework responsibility between men and women tend to be quite consistent at each life stage despite minor fluctuations in the volume of household chores.”

At age 25, partners were found to be more involved in housework if they had a lower income than their significant other, or if they were female.

By age 32, increased responsibilities for both genders, including higher work hours and raising kids, had entered the picture, leaving less time for housework for either partner.

Once a couple had reached their early-to-mid 40s, however, the household duties mostly reverted back to women.

“Overall, time, money, and gender variables seem to be important for explaining the division of household labor, albeit to varying intensities depending on stage in the life course,” explains Horne.

Horne believes her team’s findings can be used in a number of ways, perhaps most significantly by shedding light on an often overlooked gender disparity.

Partners, legislators, and employers all have something to learn from how roles in domestic life end up having a broader societal impact, she argues.

The complete study was published Tuesday in the journal Sex Roles.


  1. Household chores? Like fixing the roof, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash? No? Maintaining the cars? Painting? Carpentry? Plumbing? No? Cutting wood and stocking the pile? Fixing the refrigerator? No? Computer maintenance? No? Oh, you mean stacking the dishwasher and doing laundry of which they generate 80% of. Oh. Now I see.

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