Survey of parents: Mothers take on the majority of child care

As of: February 26, 2024 2:02 p.m

Most couples agree: everyday work should be distributed fairly. But when it comes to childcare, according to a survey by the Hans Böckler Foundation, it is mothers who are primarily responsible. However, fathers often see things differently.

There is still a wide gap between theory and practice when it comes to the issue of equal division of labor in heterosexual relationships. As a Survey by the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation showed that 89 percent of women and 84 percent of men consider it to be the best division of labor if both partners take on an equal amount of work in terms of employment, household chores and children. However, a good two thirds of the mothers surveyed (68 percent) and only four percent of the fathers stated that they did the majority of the care work themselves.

According to the study, a trend towards more equality emerged during the corona pandemic. In April 2020, both twelve percent of mothers and fathers stated that the man took on the lion’s share of childcare in their household – almost four times as much as before Corona.

This proportion is now back to approximately the pre-crisis level, according to the study, which was published on the occasion of the so-called Equal Care Day on Thursday. “The pandemic has hardly changed anything in terms of the distribution of child care,” explained WSI director Bettina Kohlrausch. “The main burden still falls on women.”

Assessments vary

The survey also revealed that fathers and mothers’ assessments of who does how much care work at home differ greatly. 54 percent of the fathers but 68 percent of the mothers were of the opinion that the mother mainly takes care of the children. 42 percent of fathers, but only 30 percent of mothers, spoke of a largely equal division of labor.

According to the study, the differences in perception in the distribution of work in the so-called mental load are even greater. This refers to the organization of care work in everyday life, which ranges from getting birthday presents to parents’ evening at school to arranging check-up appointments with the pediatrician. While only 33 percent of the women surveyed thought that this work was equally distributed, 66 percent of the men thought so.

Director for the end of Spousal splits

In order to promote an equal division of labor, WSI director Kohlrausch calls for a further expansion of daycare centers, a parental allowance reform with an expansion of partner months and an increase in the minimum and maximum wage replacement benefits, as well as the abolition of spouse splitting, as this “tax incentives for an unbalanced division of paid work” among couples offer. Kohlrausch is demanding flexible working time rules from employers as well as lower weekly working hours of 35 or 32 hours per week with full wage compensation.

For the survey, which took place in November 2023, the answers on the subject of childcare from 476 mothers and 693 fathers who were employed or looking for work and who had underage children in the household were evaluated. For the topics of gender roles and the topic of mental load, the answers from 1,787 women and 2,118 men without children required to care were also included.

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