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Time use: Total work burden, unpaid work, and leisure

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Released: 2018-07-30

In 2015, women spent an average of 2.8 hours per day on housework—54 minutes more than men (1.9 hours per day). Over the past 30 years, however, the time that women spent on housework decreased by an average of 42 minutes per day, while the time that men spent on housework increased by an average of 24 minutes per day.

Time spent on paid work and unpaid housework and caregiving, in combination, was similar among women (7.8 hours per day) and men (7.6 hours per day) in 2015, with women generally spending more time on unpaid work and less time on paid work compared with men. More specifically, women aged 25 to 54 spent an average of 3.9 hours per day on unpaid work—1.5 hours more than men (2.4 hours)—and 1.3 hours fewer than men on paid work (3.9 hours versus 5.2 hours).

These findings are taken from the final chapter of the seventh edition of Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, entitled "Time use: Total work burden, unpaid work, and leisure," released today. Using data from the 1986, 2010, and 2015 General Social Survey (GSS) on Time Use and the 2012 GSS on Caregiving and Care Receiving, this chapter examines gender differences among people aged 25 to 54 in the allocation of time to housework, caregiving, and leisure, and how the situation has changed over time.

A greater proportion of women than men perform routine child-care tasks on a given day, and spend more time doing so

As is the case with housework, women generally spend more time than men on routine tasks related to the physical care of children. In 2010, 76.1% of women, whose youngest child in the household was under the age of 16, performed routine child-care tasks on a given day, compared with 56.7% of men (a difference of 19.4 percentage points). Furthermore, these women spent nearly one hour more per day on routine child-care tasks than their male counterparts (2.3 hours per day versus 1.4 hours per day, a difference of 54 minutes).

The gender gap in participation and time spent was smaller for tasks related to child engagement, development, and education. Around 40% of women, whose youngest child was under the age of 16, performed these tasks, as did 27.4% of men (a difference of 11.8 percentage points). Women who participated in child engagement, development, and education spent an average of 36 minutes per day on these tasks—12 minutes more than their male counterparts (24 minutes per day).

Women are more likely than men to provide care to an adult family member or friend on a given day

Caregiving provided to an adult family member or friend, either within the household or outside of it, plays an important role in maintaining the health, well-being, quality of life, and functional independence of recipients, and it also reduces demands on health care and social service systems.

Women provide a disproportionate share of that support relative to men. More specifically, the proportion of women who provided care to an adult family member or friend on a given day was three times that of men in 2015 (3.4% versus 1.1%). Among those who provided such care, women spent an average of 1.7 hours per day on adult caregiving—42 minutes more than men (1.0 hour per day).

  Note to readers

Sex-disaggregated data presented in this article are based on multiple cycles of the General Social Survey.

Estimates exclude institutionalized populations, First Nations reserves, and those residing in the territories.

Housework refers to a wide range of chores geared toward maintaining household members, their home and property, as well as their vehicles. Gender specialization in housework—that is, women and men performing different household tasks—contributes to the gender gap in time spent on housework, as women tend to do tasks that are routine and repetitive, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping, while men do tasks that are more episodic, such as taking out the garbage, house and car repairs, mowing the lawn, and gardening.

Data in this report are presented and analyzed by sex, as per international guidelines for producing gender statistics. For more information, see United Nations Statistics Division, Gender Statistics Manual.


This release is based on the chapter "Time Use: Total work burden, unpaid work, and leisure," as part of Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, seventh edition (Catalogue number89-503-X), which is now available.

The publication Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, is a collaborative effort of Status of Women Canada and Statistics Canada.

Contact information

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