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Korean men do least housework in OECD

South Korean men spend the least amount of time on housework among 29 surveyed members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, highlighting the persistent gender imbalance in household responsibilities.

According to the work-life balance index published Monday by Statistics Korea and Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, South Korean men spent an average of 45 minutes a day on household chores, less than a third of the OECD average of 139 minutes. South Korea was the only country, along with India (52 minutes) where men devoted less than an hour to housework.

South Korean women spent 227 minutes on household chores a day on average, five times longer than men. But the amount of time is shorter than the OECD average of 274 minutes, with only women from Sweden (207 minutes) and Norway (215 minutes) spending less on domestic chores than Korean women.

Statistics Korea and the Gender Ministry compiled data from the OECD statistics that studied 29 member countries about the time adults of each gender spent on “unpaid work” from 1999 to 2011. Unpaid work refers to various household tasks including shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning and child care.

The gap between Korean men and women was seventh highest in the OECD bloc. Norway marked the least with 31 minutes and India marked the largest with 300 minutes in terms of the gender disparity.

But the gender imbalance is steadily narrowing among Korean men and women from double-income households, the statistics showed.

Korean husbands from double-income households spent only 32 minutes on housework in 2009, but the amount of time increased by three minutes to 40 minutes in 2014. During the same period, the time working women spend on domestic tasks decreased from 208 minutes to 194 minutes.

In South Korea, the number of double-income household stands at 5.18 million, accounting for 43.9 percent of the total married households in 2014.

The marital status also affected the amount of time women spent on housework, with married women devoting 259 minutes in a stark contrast to unmarried ones spending only 63 minutes.

The report shed light on the women’s careers disrupted by childrearing, with 21.8 percent of married women having quit their jobs to get married, give birth or raise a child.

Among them, married women in their 30s experienced career disruption the most at 53.1 percent, followed by those in their 40s at 29.8 percent and those aged between 15 and 29 at 8.6 percent, according to the data.

Nearly 37 percent of the women pointed to marriage for their decision to leave their job, while 29.9 percent of them cited childrearing and 24.4 percent mentioned pregnancy and giving birth.

Both Korean women and men increasingly take paternity leave to take care of their children, with the number of those on paternity or maternity leave having risen by 10.4 percent from a year earlier.

But the parental leave appears to put Koreans’ careers at risks, with only 59.6 percent of those taking the paid leave returning to their original workplaces, the data showed.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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