UK statisticians put value of household chores through the wash

Posted on November 10, 2016

Britain’s statisticians became the ultimate referees in disputes over household chores on Thursday when they published an online calculator that allows people to value the cooking, cleaning, childcare, gardening and DIY they do.

Using the average wages of those who are paid do these tasks, the Office for National Statistics calculator gives an estimate of how much their unpaid work would be worth if they could find someone to pay them for it.

In total, the ONS thinks people do £1.01tn of unpaid work in the home, the equivalent of 56 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product, which values all of the paid work in the UK.

The value of unpaid chores has grown faster than the size of the economy over the past decade because the costs of paid childcare have risen faster than inflation, making it worth more when done at home.

In the home, women do 60 per cent more unpaid work than men, the ONS says, and when it comes to cooking, childcare and housework, they do twice as much.

On average, men do 16 hours of unpaid work a week compared with 26 hours for women, with men only taking the lead role in driving themselves to work and ferrying the rest of the family around in the car.

If they were paid for their chores, the average man would earn £166.63 a week while the average woman would earn £259.63. The figures suggest that the chores men tend to do are slightly more valued in the labour market than those undertaken more by women.

Childcare, both looking after young children and teaching older kids, is valued highly at £15.28 an hour and occupies women for over 4.5 hours a week compared with less than two hours a week for men.

The gender divide is not the most extreme, however. Students score as the laziest in Britain when it comes to chores, doing just 12 hours a week of unpaid work, while the average mother on maternity leave does 60 hours a week.

There is little difference between the rich and the poor. In contrast to the Downton Abbey world of the early 20th century, the ONS reckons that rich modern families spend almost exactly the same amount of time on chores as poorer families. The only difference is that higher-income households spend less time cooking and on childcare, but this is offset by spending more time transporting each other around.

Letter in response to this article:

Inequality that begins in the home has huge repercussions beyond it / From Tanya Barron

You must be logged in to post a comment Login