Study Finds That Moms Who Earn More Than Dads Still Take On The Majority Of Housework


It’s no secret that when it comes to household duties such as cooking and cleaning, women tend to take on the lion’s share of the work.


To be fair, a lot of husbands do shoulder their fair share of housework, however, let’s be real, many do not.

And while you would think that this inequality would balance out, particularly when there are children and both parents are working full-time, sadly, this is often not the case.

Mothers still shoulder the majority of the household responsibilities, even when they are the main breadwinners.

In fact, according to science, bringing home the majority of the bacon = MORE household chores for moms. 

A new study from the University of Bath found that married mothers who earn more than their husbands take on an even greater share of the housework.

Researchers studied the domestic responsibilities and earnings of over 6,000 dual-earner heterosexual North American couples.

They examined the impact of having children on the relationship between partners’ housework time and spousal relative income.

According to the study author, Dr. Joanna Syrda, men have traditionally done less of the household chores because of their roles as the main breadwinners. 

The assumption is that people who earn more money, tend to work longer hours (which, in reality, isn’t always the case).

So based on this assumption, it would stand that whoever makes the most should do the least in terms of housework, regardless of gender.

You would think. But apparently, you would be wrong.

Young mom sitting with her daughter while working from home.
Adobe Photostock

Syrda stated in a press release:

“Of course, we understand why specialized division of labour exists, but there is no reason for this specialization to be gender-specific.

Traditional division has been conventionally explained by men earning more and working longer hours and has a certain logical appeal.” 

However, what researchers discovered was actually the opposite.

The gender housework gap actually gets bigger for mothers who earned more than their spouses – the more they earned over their partner, the more housework they did.

So why is this the case?

According to Syrda it all has to do with conventional gender norms and attitudes.

Traditionally men have made more money than women in the past. As this shifts, couples struggle with what this looks like. 

As things change outside the home, they may try to hold fast onto traditions within the home to compensate. 

“Married couples that fail to replicate the traditional division of income may be perceived – both by themselves and others – to be deviating from the norm.

What may be happening is that, when men earn less than women, couples neutralise this by increasing traditionality through housework – in other words, wives do more and husbands do less as they try to offset this ‘abnormal’ situation by leaning into other conventional gender norms.”

The economic argument that working mothers take on a greater share of household chores to free up their higher-earning (male) partners so they can focus on work clearly doesn’t work both ways.

Obviously, it’s never really been about the money.

Look, it’s really no surprise that moms tend to take on more of the domestic labor than dads.

But the fact that the gap is even larger the more money moms earn is definitely an unexpected twist.  

Additionally, this study only looked at housework, which was defined as “time spent cooking, cleaning, and doing other work around the house.”

It did not take into account childcare duties, of which mothers tend to take on the starring role.

Regardless of whether or not it’s fair, moms are almost always the “default parent.” The one who shoulders the weight of our children’s needs. The one who remembers all the dates, who fills out all the forms, and who organizes all of the activities.

The one who does the clothes shopping, and the dentist appointments, and is the go-to for boo-boos and broken hearts.

As for divvying up household chores, it shouldn’t really matter who makes more money.

When it comes to the division of domestic labor, it should be what is equitable and fair for both partners.

As far as we have come in balancing the scales, it’s obvious that we still have a long way to go in achieving true equality where domestic labor is concerned.



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