Since 2005, Elitepartner has carried out one of the largest population-representative partnership studies in Germany at regular intervals. In addition to many other aspects, the online dating agency also examines how equally couples share everyday work. For the current wave of surveys, a total of 7,259 adults were surveyed in October and November 2020 on the topics of housekeeping, finances, manual work as well as leisure planning and childcare.
According to the elite partner psychologist Lisa Fischbach, the study shows that we are “still a long way from an egalitarian understanding of gender roles and a gender-independent division of tasks”. According to the study, women still take on the lion’s share of the household, while the men mainly take care of the finances and manual work.
Women and men often perceive the division of labor differently
According to their own information, around 56 percent of women alone or mainly take care of meal planning, shopping and cooking. 65 percent of them also take care of tidying up, cleaning and washing. In the area of care, only 38 percent of women feel that the division of labor is fair, and only 31 percent when it comes to order. This contrasts with the perception of men: 51 percent (care) and 40 percent (order) state that they do as much as their partner. 24 percent even stated that they ran the household alone. However, only seven percent of women agree.
There is also disagreement about who is more responsible for the finances. While 43 percent of women consider their share in this area to be the same as that of men, only 34 percent of men think the same way. 57 percent of men even state that they deal with transfers, tax returns and insurance on their own. It is different with manual tasks: 70 percent of men state that they are responsible for repairs and 55 percent of women agree. And although every third woman feels that their share is equal, only 25 percent of men see it that way.
After all, childcare and leisure planning now seem to be equally distributed in almost every second relationship: When it comes to childcare, 56 percent of women and 69 percent of men agree that they both do the same. Nevertheless: around 40 percent of women state that they are solely responsible for this area – in contrast to only twelve percent of men who have this impression of themselves. There is the greatest agreement among both sexes on the coordination of vacations and evening planning: 59 percent of women and 67 percent of men believe that planning their leisure obligations is shared. Two perceptions that don’t quite fit together.
Often equality is overturned by starting a family
It is also particularly noticeable that starting a family tends to tip over equality in most relationships – and leads to retraditionalization, says psychologist Fischbach. It has been shown that younger couples between the ages of 18 and 29 often organize their everyday life with more equal rights, even though women are more stressed here too. With older couples between the ages of 30 and 39, a turnaround is already evident: In comparison, the majority of women rate their share in the areas of care, order and childcare as even greater. Similar trends can be seen among men in the areas of finance and handicrafts.
The assumption that starting a family might be the reason for this is reinforced by the comparison with childless couples. According to Fischbach, what is needed is “a profound social acceptance of equal forms of life and the resolution of different evaluations of individual tasks” in order to change this discrepancy in the division of labor. Men in particular perceive household tasks more often as an extra service – and thus rate their share higher.