Sharing of task and lifestyle among aged couples

Iiris Niemi

Sharing domestic work, leisure activities, aged

Family is often thought of as an efficient work unit where tasks are apportioned and shared among the workers. This paper studies the sharing of domestic work in aged families. Do spouses divide tasks between them more evenly than in the middle years now that they have more time? The findings of the Finnish Time Use Survey in 1999/2000 did not support such presumptions about task sharing. The wife of a man who spends a lot of time on domestic work also does a lot of it, both in the middle years and in retirement. Same types of chores, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, home maintenance or helping another household, are done on the same days. Even in retirement, the wife does the lion’s share of domestic work, although certain evening out does happen. The lifestyle of these families is more consistent in free-time activities than in domestic work. The spouses have adopted similar hobbies both at home and outside it. Instead of pursuing their personal choice, they engage in the same hobbies as their spouse. This change begins before the retirement age, for the similarity in time use begins to show clearly already among middle-aged couples.