Do Men Who Do the Dishes Lead a Happier Life?
A study of men across seven countries found that those who shouldered a bigger share of domestic responsibilities had a better sense of wellbeing and enjoyed a better work-life balance.
But experts suggested that, while this may be partly because they felt less guilty, the main reason could be that they had simply learnt the secret of a quiet life.
Sociologists used data from the regular European Social Survey which compares the lifestyles of people across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Britain.
All of the participants are asked standard questions used to measure their happiness or wellbeing such as whether they feel “fulfilled” in life and whether they wake up feeling refreshed.
They were also asked a series of questions designed to measure their levels of “work-life conflict”.
The answers from men and women were then compared with separate questions dealing with how much time they spent on tasks like cooking, washing, shopping or DIY.
The researchers expected to find that where men shouldered more of the burden, women’s happiness levels were higher.
In fact they found that it was the men who were happier while their wives and girlfriends appeared to be largely unmoved.
Those men who did more housework generally reported less work-life conflict and were scored slightly higher for wellbeing overall.
Prof Jacqueline Scott, professor of empirical sociology at Cambridge, co-author of a book on gender roles in which the study is included, said this may be because more men support gender equality than in the past.
But she added that it may also be that women nowadays are more likely to be vocal in making their feelings about lazy husbands known.
“Times are changing,” she said.
“As a more equitable philosophy becomes the ideal, if you are experiencing something which doesn’t live up to that to are more ready to express dissatisfaction – and certainly that is what is perceived by men.
“They are picking up on more family conflict.”
She added: “There were really good reasons from the literature for thinking that it would be women who really benefited if the men did more but that is not what we found and that is what is interesting.
“I think that really is because by and large women have taken it for granted that they would have to do a double shift.
“It is not that their wellbeing rises if he is doing more on this measure.”