Economists Offer Proof: Women Work More

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An analysis conducted by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland confirms what mothers employed full-time have long known: They work longer hours, if not harder, than their husbands.

A separate analysis they conducted would seem to confirm the obvious: high school and college students with jobs study less and their grades reflect it.

Dionessi Aliprantis and Anne Chen, a research economist and a research analyst respectively in the Research Department of the Cleveland Fed, released their studies, “Market, Nonmarket and Total Work of Males and Females” and “Student Employment and Time Use,” last month. Both economists focus on issues related to labor.

In both studies, Aliprantis and Chen reviewed data collected between 2003 and 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. In the first, they found that whether a couple were parents determined how much longer each day an employed mother devoted to her job and then worked at home. “We find that child status is the key predictor of differences across [sexes],” they write.

In “Student Employment,” Aliprantis and Chen found that students with part-time jobs get less sleep (not a good thing) than those able to devote more time to studying. Moreover, students with part-time jobs spend less of their leisure time watching television and playing games on their computers.

Interestingly, the half-hour daily gap in sleep at the beginning of the study (2003) had closed or nearly closed by 2014 for both high school and college students. The gap in time high school students spent on homework had widened by 2014 while among college students it widened between 2003 and 2009 before returning to 2003 levels in 2014.

“While this analysis cannot say whether employed students would have spent additional time on homework if they were not employed,” they write, “the evidence from ATUS does show that employment is clearly related to time spent on homework.”

High school students with jobs tend to work two to three hours a day for their employers while their counterparts in college averaged four to five hours. Just over 21,000 students responded to the questionnaires during the dozen years ATUS collected data.

Students without gainful employment spent between 20 and 40 minutes a day more on homework than their counterparts with jobs, the study found.

Of course, balancing work and going to school forced many employed students to manage their time better and resulted in earning better grades. Regardless, the authors write, “It is an open question whether working while in school helps or hurts students’ long-term outcomes,” that is, earn grades that attract employers’ attention and allow them to enter the careers of their choice. “It remains to be seen whether there are advantages to working while in school and whether they outweigh any disadvantages.”

As for women employed full-time who are mothers, on average they devote 2½ hours more a day to household chores and caring for their children than their husbands, Aliprantis and Chen found.

When the time devoted to work and household chores is added up and computed as “total work,” women (regardless of whether they’re mothers) work an hour a day longer than men until the women reach their mid-40s, the authors found. At age 45, total work is about equal between the sexes and men surpass women, albeit slightly, until age 60.

Regardless of age, men and women “without children tend to work very similar hours per day,” Aliprantis and Chen write. Unmarried women tend to work the same number of hours as men.

Men who have children work longer total hours than men who do not just as women who have children work longer than women who do not.

The gap in time spent on household chores between all men and women is roughly 1½ hours a day at age 23, widens to 2½ by their early 30s – about 2½ hours a day for men, five hours for women – before declining and the gaps nearly closing by age 55. By age 60, women spend a little more than an hour a day, men just under an hour, on domestic chores.

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