How Australians spend their time

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Balancing work and family remains a big issue for Australian men and women, with around 40% of women and 30% of men feeling often or always rushed or pressed for time, according to a new report.

But when it comes to how men and women spend their day, the report finds that there are some big differences, with traditional gender roles still evident.

Australian women are spending on average two hours more each day than men on housework, child care and purchasing goods and services. Men spend almost the equivalent extra time on employment-related activities as well as an extra half hour per day on recreational and leisure
pursuits.

These are some of the key findings of the AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report: Race against time – How Australians spend their time, which examines time use in Australia, including time spent on employment and education; housework and child care; leisure; and sleeping and eating; and how this has evolved.

With many already time squeezed, women are less satisfied than men with their partners’ contribution towards child care and housework, with 25% not so satisfied with their partners’ commitment of time towards child care compared to 15% for men.

And women are even less happy with the help they get with household tasks – with 11% actively dissatisfied. In contrast, only 4% of men are dissatisfied with their partners’ efforts around the home.

Contributing to time pressures, Australian full-time weekly work hours have increased by almost three hours for men and two hours for women since 1985. That is, average weekly full-time hours have risen from 39.5 hours to 42.3 hours for men and 36.4 hours to 38.6 hours for women.

AMP Financial Services Managing Director Craig Meller said the report shows that juggling work and family is the main reason both men and women in Australia feel pressed for time.

“Juggling competing work, family and individual commitments means we have to be careful time managers. But there are only 24 hours in a day, leaving many of us feeling like we’ve let someone, or even ourselves, down. This is especially the case for young working mothers, who seem to be the most time poor according to the report’s findings,” Mr Meller said.

A third (33%) of men and women in double income households with children feel that child care is shared fairly between them. However, an additional 33% of women believe they do more than their fair share of looking after the children, despite their partners claiming to contribute fairly.

Time pressure is felt especially by young mothers with children, more than 60% feeling they contribute more than their fair share to household tasks. This compares with 50% of working women without children.

NATSEM Director and co-author of the report Professor Alan Duncan said the regular nine to five working week now appears less the norm with people now working longer hours, often with early starts and late finishes, and weekends at the office.

“These types of work patterns have potentially adverse effects on family life, a greater requirement for tag team parenting and add to the time pressures that working couples particularly are feeling,” Professor Duncan said.

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