Females do more unpaid work, males do more paid work: Australia

People in Australia spent an average of three and a half hours a day on unpaid work activities during 2020-2021, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Time Use Survey published today.

Unpaid work includes domestic duties like housework, food and drink preparation and shopping, as well as child care, adult care and volunteering activities.

Lisa Scanlon, Director of Social Surveys and Statistics said: “the publication provides a snapshot of how people balance their time between work, leisure, caring and other activities.

“On average, females spent 4 hours and 31 minutes a day doing unpaid work activities. Males spent over an hour less on these activities, averaging 3 hours and 12 minutes a day. Less than half of males (42 per cent) spent time on housework, compared to 70 per cent of females.

“Mothers spent an average of 3 hours and 34 minutes participating in child care activities a day, while fathers spent 2 hours and 19 minutes”.

Of those who spent time doing employment related activities, males spent 8 hours and 13 minutes in a day on these activities, compared to females who spent 7 hours and 12 minutes.

The survey also provides insight into the activities that people do in their free time. On average, people spent 5 hours and 27 minutes a day on free time activities that included social interaction, recreation and leisure activities.

Three quarters of people reported watching television and video, for an average of 2 hours and 55 minutes a day. Thirty per cent of respondents spent time doing exercise, sport and outdoor activities for an average of 1 hour and 29 minutes a day.

The survey asked how often participants felt rushed or pressed for time. Females aged 35 to 44 years were most likely to report always or often feeling rushed for time (55 per cent).

The ABS would like to thank the participants who contributed to these survey results.

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Grab 1.

The ABS has released data from the Time Use Survey which is available from our publication ‘How Australians Use Their Time’. In this survey we ask people what activities they do in their day and how long do they do them for. In the publication, the activities are organised into broad categories, for example, unpaid work and free time activities.

Grab 2.

So just by way of background, free time activities consisted of activities such as social interaction and community interaction, recreation, and leisure activities. And from the survey, we found that 96 per cent of people reported spending time on free time activities. The average time participants spent on the free time activities was 5 hours 27 minutes of their day. If you look more closely at the free time activities, we found that 93 per cent of people reported spending time on recreation and leisure activities for an average of 4 hours 23 minutes. And for the one that so many of us are interested in, we found that three quarters of people spent time watching TV and video, for an average of 2 hours 55 minutes. In addition to that, just under one third (of people) spent time doing exercise, sport, or outdoor activities, for an average of 1 hour 29 minutes.

Grab 3.

For the Time Use Survey, the category unpaid work, includes activities that benefit the household or others, and that are conducted without payment, and it includes things like domestic activity, childcare, adult care and voluntary work. In the survey we found that 94 per cent of females reported spending time doing unpaid work, compared to 86 per cent of males. Of those that did unpaid work, females spent an average of 4 hours 31 minutes a day. That was over an hour more than males, who spent an average of 3 hours 12 minutes a day. We also found that females were more likely to participate in domestic activities than males. Seventy per cent of females spent time on housework, compared to 42 per cent of males. Males were, however, more likely to spend time on home and vehicle maintenance than females, with 10 per cent of males spending time on these activities as opposed to 4 per cent of females.

Grab 4.

When it comes to employment activities, we found that more males reported participating in employment activities than women, 48 per cent of males compared to 37% per cent for females. And males who spent doing employment activities spent 8 hours 13 minutes in their day on these activities, this is one hour more than females who spent 7 hours 12 minutes. It should be noted, however, that while the Time Use Survey does provide insights into time spent on employment activity, the ABS undertakes other in-depth surveys about participation in the work force, such as the Labour Force Survey.

Grab 5.

The Time Use Survey found that more female parents spent time on childcare activities than male parents, 89 per cent compared to 73 per cent. On average, female parents spent 3 hours and 34 minutes on childcare activities, which is over an hour more of their day than male parents who spent 2 hours and 19 minutes. If we look more closely at childcare activities, 70 per cent of female parents spent time engaging in physical and emotional care of children, compared to 42 per cent of male parents. And 51 per cent female parents spent time playing, reading, or talking to a child, compared to 38 per cent of males.

/ABS Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.