Over the past decade, the amount of hours British women spend at work each week has increased by more than an hour. To be more precise, the average woman’s working week is 65 minutes longer compared to 2009.
Longer work hours surely seem to be part of our busy, modern life, and it is true. However, according to the report published by the Resolution Foundation charity, there is a specific reason why women work more than before. And this reason is the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
The Resolution Foundation suggested indeed that the change was caused by real wages stagnating ever since the crisis 12 years ago. This means people are getting paid less, causing workers to look for more hours of work to protect their family incomes.
But why women?
The proportion of workers who are women has risen from 40 per cent in 1979 to 47 per cent today. One consequence of rising female employment is more two earner households – boosting families’ incomes and enabling (often male) primary earners to reduce their hours and share total working hours across the household. Today, one in seven men work 30 hours per week or less.
Commenting on the report, George Bangham, policy analyst at the charity, said: “In recent decades, rising female employment and the linked growth in male part-time work have meant that households are sharing paid work more evenly, further driving down the average working week for individuals. But falls in the average working week have stalled since the crisis, and working time has been rising for women.”
Women on average spend nine hours per week less in paid work than men – though they do more unpaid work, according to the study. The difference is explained partly by women tending to work slightly shorter hours, but mainly because two-thirds of part-time work is still done by women.
Mr Bangham commented: “Within households, we might get back to the trend of couples sharing paid work more equally rather than one person working many more hours,” he said. “The question then is: will we ‘level up’ with more people working full-time, or continue to ‘level-down’ so that more workers keep making to move to part-time?”