Society: Irishmen are Europe's worst for helping out in the home

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Marry a Dane but avoid an Irishman appears to be the best advice for any woman wondering how best to juggle children, meals and housework with the demands of a full-time job.

A study by the European Commission confirms that most European fathers are still playing a marginal role when it comes to childcare. Worst offenders are Irishmen, Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, and Luxembourgers, while only in Denmark and Holland can women expect anything verging on equal partnership.

One in three women in the EU is classed officially as a housewife. But the house-husband seems an illusory creature, with less than 1 per cent of men aged 25 to 59 staying at home full-time. Ireland has the highest percentage of housewives, with 60 per cent of women in the 25 to 59 age bracket remaining at home to look after children and take care of household chores.

In Spain Greece Italy and Luxembourg the percentage is also more than 40%. Housewives as a percentage of the British population have fallen to below the EU average. The housewife is rarer in France Portugal and Belgium and almost extinct in Denmark where only 4 per cent of women opt to work exclusively in the home.