December 16, 2009

Do The Dishes Together, Stay Happier

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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A new study published by The University of Western Ontario reveals that couples who share the responsibility for paid and unpaid work report higher average measures of happiness and life satisfaction than those couples in other family models.
The "shared roles" relationship model, in which each partner's unpaid work is within 40 to 60 percent of the total unpaid work, now represents more than 25 percent of respondents. Couples are more likely to be in a shared roles relationship model when women have more resources and when the couple is less religious.

The "complementary-traditional family" relationship model, in which men do more paid work and women do more unpaid work, is declining. However, it remains the largest category of relationships.

Researchers suggest the shared roles model is advantageous to society in terms of gender equity and its ability to maximize labor force participation by all adults. It also leaves women less vulnerable in the case of separation, divorce or death of a spouse.

Lead researchers Rod Beaujot and Zenaida Ravanera, from the university's Department of Sociology, believe a key policy challenge is accommodating the shared roles model within diverse families. To promote this model, they suggest policies that support equal opportunities for men and women to access education and work, provide conditions that facilitate work-life balance and promote greater involvement of men in housework and childcare.

"Adequate childcare facilities and equal opportunity [for] parental leave should also be a focus of Canadian public policy," adds Beaujot.

The study was conducted as part of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded Population Change and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster, a national network based at The University of Western Ontario and led by Beaujot. The study is based on data collected from Statistics Canada Canadian General Social Surveys of 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2005. The couples studied were neither full-time students, nor were they retired.

Douglas Keddy
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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
September 17, 2010

Last Updated:
December 3, 2013