Unpaid work in the family is of great value

96% of mothers with young children are engaged in some form of work at home, work that often goes unseen and unnoticed, with married mothers being the most likely to share these many tasks. These are some of the findings of research by the Foundation for Healthy and Harmonious Families (EHCSA) and the Mária Kopp Institute for Demography and Families (KINCS). Two thirds of respondents believe that there is a monetary value to housework and unpaid care work. The survey also found that mothers with large families receive the most help, although they also have the most workload at home.  Today is International Day of Unpaid Work.

Unpaid work, often also referred to as “invisible work” is the type of work for which there is no pay. It is the kind of work that many people take for granted, but whose absence is immediately noticeable.  Its scale is significant at the level of the national economy - if it were included in GDP, it would be almost 25 per cent higher. This category includes household chores, childcare, care for elderly relatives and even community work.

The non-representative survey asked mothers aged 18-49 about unpaid work. The responses showed that the majority of mothers (62%) had heard of unpaid or invisible work alongside paid work, and a large majority (81%) knew the meaning of the term.

96% of mothers with young children surveyed do unpaid work, almost half (46%) for more than 10 hours a week. Tasks most frequently mentioned by respondents were washing, cleaning and cooking.

Most people share housework with their adult family members, this is true especially among married couples, but grandparents and older children are also often involved in unpaid work. The results show that 95 per cent of spouses help out with household chores, yet only one fifth of women surveyed feel that tasks are shared proportionally. A large majority (79%) think that women have more to do than men. One fifth of mothers say they use paid help.

The survey also found that mothers with large families get more help from their partners as well as their children. A third of those surveyed often find it a burden to do the housework, while 57% rarely feel it to be a great hardship, and one in ten mothers find it a real pleasure. One in two mothers (51%) in the survey feel that their unpaid work is appreciated in the family, while nearly a third (29%) do not.

The survey also underlines the need to raise awareness of the importance of “invisible work”.

Methodology: non-representative survey, 468 respondents surveyed online between the 5th and 15th of December 2022.

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