Unequal division: Women still taking on the majority of household tasks

Unequal division: Women still taking on the majority of household tasks

According to a new report by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), despite the fact that more women are studying, working and earning more, they still take on care tasks at home more often than men. To reach this conclusion, CBS looked at two generations of 30-year-olds – one group who were 30 in the 80s and one who were 30 in 2010.

Taking on care tasks

Women are increasingly better educated and opt for jobs in the legal or economic fields more often nowadays than they used to. However, they are still overrepresented in care and societal fields when compared to men. Traditional roles are hard to break and a great deal of men and women still believe that care tasks are more suited to women, especially when it comes to young children.

Speaking of young children, young mothers now work relatively more often and longer, albeit part-time. For men, these points have hardly changed, not even for working fathers. On this topic, CBS researcher Tanja Traag says, “As soon as care tasks come up, the partners enter into a discussion and seem to feel that it is an okay division if the woman works less and cares more for the children.” According to Traag, income plays a big role in this decision - the one earning less works less, as this is the least costly financially.

No change in the foreseeable future

It doesn’t look like the situation is going to change in the coming years. The research looked at 12 - 25-year-olds as well and found that even in the youngest generation of girls, the expectation was to work considerably fewer hours if they were to have a family with children than if they weren’t. Although many boys expected they would work fewer hours if children were to come along, there were not nearly as many boys with this notion compared to the girls. 

There is no incentive to drastically change the division of roles, Traag comments, as partners seem to like the division as long as both can still continue to do what they want and the children are well looked after. “Women and men consider equality important, but not in a strictly financial sense. Both should contribute equally to the family, with care tasks weighing just as heavily as the contribution of income.”

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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