Do Icelandic men do more around the house than women?

Single Icelandic men spend a lot more time doing household chores than single Icelandic women, a new survey suggests.

The survey was conducted by Kolbeinn Holmar Stefansson, a University of Iceland sociologist, and by Thora Kristin Thorsdottir, who is studying for a sociology doctorate at Manchester University.

The pair’s results show that single, childless men spend an average of 12 hours a week doing housework and other household chores, while females in the same position spend just nine hours a week. Despite this, the men studied spend an average of 56 hours a week in paid employment and the women spend just 42 hours working.

The roles are reversed, however, when people move in with their partners. Women in full-time employment, in a relationship and with children at home spend an average of 14 hours a week on household chores, while men in the same situation spend four hours less on housework. Just like with single people, it is also the men who spend longer each week in paid employment.

Stefansson and Thorsdottir believe there are two explanations for the fact that women and men spend such differing amounts of time on the chores.

One explanation is that gender stereotypes often mean that when a heterosexual couple move in together, the woman takes on the majority of the housework — whether deliberately or not.

The other explanation is that although single men may spend longer on the housework, it does not necessarily mean that they do more of it. It could simply be that women are better at housework, and therefore quicker at it, reports.

Thorsdottir says that couples’ division of labour is often decided without discussion during the romantic “honeymoon” period when they first move in together. At this time partners are eager to please each other and often take on old fashioned gender roles for romantic reasons. However, the fact that the division of labour is rarely formally discussed means that couples often get stuck in a rut, Thorsdottir warns.

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