Australian Bureau of Statistics
4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jan 2012
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2012
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CARING FOR CHILDREN
Female parents spent more than twice as much time each day caring for children aged 0-14 years than did male parents in both 1997 and 2006. This includes childcare undertaken as either a primary activity or as a secondary activity (such as undertaking childcare while also undertaking domestic tasks). While the average amount of time per day spent by females increased by 37 minutes between 1997 and 2006 (to 8 hours and 33 minutes) this increase was not statistically significant. The average for males was unchanged at 3 hours and 55 minutes.
One of the most important aspects of a child's upbringing is their relationship with their primary care givers - usually their parents. Parents spend time with their children for various reasons, including to nurture them, be role models, help with educational needs, and teach them life and socialisation skills. Ultimately, this time shapes the child's view of the world and lays the foundations for adult independence. (Endnote 1)
Increasingly, families with children aged under 15 years have both parents in paid work. For many, this introduces on-going challenges in balancing their family responsibilities and work commitments. (Endnote 1) In 2006, male parents in full-time employment with children aged under 15 years spent 10 hours 32 minutes a day (on average) in all forms of work (paid and unpaid), compared with 10 hours 47 minutes for female parents employed full time. Male parents in part-time employment worked (paid and unpaid) 8 hours 17 minutes a day in 2006 compared to 10 hours 4 minutes for female parents employed part time.
Although domestic tasks are now shared more equitably than in previous generations, men still spend longer hours in paid employment, while women continue to take on a greater proportion of childcare. (Endnote 2) For example, in 2006 male parents employed part-time spent 3 hours 33 minutes per day in employment-related primary activities and 1 hour 31 minutes per day on childcare-related primary activities, while for female parents the employment-related activities accounted for 2 hours 45 minutes and childcare-related activities 2 hours 42 minutes per day. (Endnote 3)
When taking account of both primary and secondary activities, female parent spent more hours per day caring for children than male parents regardless of the age of the youngest child in the family. This trend did not change between 1997 and 2006. However, when the age of the youngest child increased from 0-5 years to 6-14 years (when the child is in the schooling age group), the amount of time spent caring for children decreased. Despite this decrease, female parents continued to spend more time caring for children than did male parents, reflecting the continued traditional role of the mother as the primary care giver.
In 2006, female parents spent an average of 11 hours and 25 minutes per day caring for children when the youngest child in the family was aged 0-5 years and requires a relatively high level of care and supervision. This decreased to 5 hours and 9 minutes per day when the youngest child in the family was aged 6-14 years, reflecting the increasing independence of school-age children. In contrast, male parents spent an average of 4 hours and 59 minutes per day caring for children when the youngest child in the family was aged 0-5 years and only 2 hours and 30 minutes per day when the youngest child was aged 6-14 years.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1999, Australian Social Trends, 1999 (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, Australian Social Trends, 2003, (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006, How Australians Use Their Time, 2006, (cat. no. 4153.0) <www.abs.gov.au>
WORK AND FAMILY BALANCE LINKS
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This page last updated 2 August 2012