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Dads Still Logging More Paid Hours than Moms

In spite of increasing gender role convergence on both the home and work fronts Canadian fathers are still logging more time at their paid jobs than mothers, even in families where both parents work full-time.  Specifically, fathers who are employed full-time during the prime child-rearing years (age 25- 44) spend an average of 1.6 more hours a day on paid work than full-time employed mothers in the same age group. 

The father-mother time difference that media and social commentators tend to focus on is that fathers do less child care and housework than mothers. And this is indeed true on average, even in couples where both parents work full-time. However, as the following table shows the extra 1.7 daily hours that mothers spend doing unpaid work is offset by the to the additional 1.6 hours a day that fathers devote to paid work. 

Fathers' and Mothers' Work Days

Average hours per day

Fathers (married, age 25- 44, employed full-time)

Mothers (married, age 25- 44, employed full-time)

Paid Work

6.6

5.0

Child Care

1.3

1.9

Other Unpaid Work

2.4

3.5

Total

10.3

10.4

(The above figures are based on tables compiled especially for the Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA) by Statistics Canada based on unpublished data from the 2010 General Social Survey*.)

 Why are mothers still logging less time on paid work than fathers?

Some evidence suggests that, in two-parent families, one parent often opts to work shorter hours to be more available for child care and other domestic duties. More often than not, that's Mom. For example:

 • In the 25- 44 age group 20% of employed women work part-time vs. 6% of men

• In couples where one parent works full-time while the other works part-time, 95% of the time it's the mother who has the part-time schedule

• 33% of mothers who work give child care responsibilities as the reason for doing part-time work vs 4% of fathers who work part-time

• Fathers still tend to earn more than mothers even though the Dad-Mom wage gap has narrowed slightly in recent years.

• Among parents who work full-time mothers are less likely than fathers to work 40 or more hours a week (44% vs. 49%).

These facts help explain why fathers still tend do more paid work and mothers still do more child care and housework, even though gender roles are converging in Canadian society. They also suggest that comparisons of fathers' and mothers' time spend on child care should always take into account the fact that fathers tend to devote more time than mothers to paid work

 

 A note about the statistics used in this article

These statistics may differ from other published statistics about men and women's time use.  Part of the difference has to do with the age group the statistics pertain to. Some articles about unpaid work compare all men and women, rather than just parents, whiles others look at a broad at age group of parents 15 - 64, which includes many non-parents, non-custodial divorced parents and parents whose youngest child is in an age group that requires much less direct hands-on care. The above statistics compare fathers and mothers who are employed full-time (30 hours or more per week) and are in the  25 - 44 year-old aged group where parents are most likely to have children who require substantial amounts of direct care.

 * The General Social Survey, which records detailed time-use information from a large sample of Canadians, defines child care as activities that involve direct contact with the child. Clearly parents spend other time with children, which would not be recorded as child care in this table. It's also important to note that the average daily paid work hours used in these tables (which include commuting time) are based on the average over a full 7-day week as opposed to a 5-day work week. Thus, fathers' average of 6.6 hours of paid work a day in Table 1 would translate into a weekly total of 46.2 hours spent on paid work and commuting. Statistics Canada's definition of full-time employment is 30 or more hours of paid work per week.