The housework and homework habits of Australian ten and eleven year-olds

The housework and homework habits of Australian ten and eleven year-olds

Media Release — 13 July 2012

Australian ten and eleven year-old girls are pitching in and doing more housework than boys of the same age, according to research presented today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies Senior Research Fellow, Dr Jennifer Baxter said time use diaries and interviews with about 4,000 ten and eleven year-olds and their parents showed that girls spend an extra ten minutes a day on chores and domestic tasks than boys do.

"While neither girls or boys are doing large amounts of housework, girls said that they spent 38 minutes per day on chores and other domestic tasks, while boys reported that they spent 28 minutes,” she said.

"Girls appear to be more self-reliant and are spending more time on tasks like making their beds, tidying their rooms, cleaning, cooking and taking care of pets than the boys are.

"Mothers working hours didn’t effect how much housework children do during the week. However if mothers are working full time, both girls and boys do more housework on the weekends.

"When children were being paid pocket money for doing jobs they were slightly more motivated to help out at home than if they were given pocket money not tied to doing jobs.

Dr Baxter said that the research was drawn from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children that includes parent, teacher and child interviews, direct assessment of children and time use diaries to get a glimpse into children’s lives.

The study also looked at how much time ten and eleven year-old boys and girls spend doing homework and other learning-related tasks for school.

Dr Baxter said the study showed there was no real gender difference with girls only spending slightly more time on homework than boys.

"On school days girls spent around 22 minutes a day on non-computer homework including music practise, while boys spent around 19 minutes a day. Girls then spent a further six minutes using a computer for homework while boys spent four minutes,” Dr Baxter said.

"However children with more highly educated mothers do more homework, around 37 minutes for girls and 32 minutes for boys on a school day, compared to 26 minutes for boys and 22 minutes for girls whose mothers don’t have a tertiary education.

"Perhaps not surprising is the fact that far more time is being spent by both boys and girls playing electronic games, watching TV and on computers.

"On weekends, boys spend more than four hours a day on screen-based activities and girls spend three and a half hours. On school days, boys spend around two hours on those activities and girls around an hour and a half."

The research will be presented at the 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies’ conference Family Transitions and Trajectories being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from July 25-27.

Presentation The housework and homework of 10 year olds by AIFS Senior Research Fellow, Dr Jennifer Baxter
View Jennifer Baxter's presentation slides (PDF 679 KB) | Jennifer Baxter's presentation slides (PPT 6.9 MB)

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