British are worst in the developed world at sharing childcare, study says

Study shows UK fathers spend the least time looking after children compared to women 

Rebecca Flood
Sunday 12 June 2016 12:00
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'This was so much harder in my day'
'This was so much harder in my day'

British parents are the worst in the developed world at sharing childcare, a study has found.

For every hour UK mothers spend looking after their children men provide just 24 minutes worth of care.

This ranks the UK bottom out of 15 countries, making parents the worst in the developed world.

Portuguese dads top the list spending 39 minutes looking after children for every hour a woman puts in.

And despite the introduction of shared parental leave last April, the UK languished at 11th on the table - out of 21 countries - for the most equal parental leave system.

But the study found that British parents are better at sharing chores than childcare, with men doing 34 minutes of housework and cooking for every hour a woman does, placing us fifth out of 15 countries.

Commissioned by the Fatherhood Institute, the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index (FIFI) compared countries on a variety of factors to determine gender equality.

Over all the UK has dropped three places since 2010, coming 12th out of 22.

The top five most egalitarian countries are all Scandinavian, with Sweden clinching the top spot.

Researchers identified three key factors inhibiting gender equality around looking after children in the UK; pay gap, an unequal parental leave system and mother-centric family services.

Fatherhood Institute chair Will McDonald said: “It’s clear that today’s fathers want to play a substantial role in caring for their young children – and mothers want more sharing too.

“What our analysis shows is that compared to other countries, the UK has failed to create the structures to support families to achieve the greater sharing that they want, and that is so important for our children’s futures.

“This needs to change, or we will continue to fall behind.”

The UK pay gap between men and women was the 15th worst out of 22 countries, with a 17.4 per cent difference.

The country with the fairest pay across the sexes was New Zealand with just 5.6 per cent difference.

Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said: “Businesses cannot afford to ignore the parenting revolution that millennials want to see and the PM won’t succeed in his vision of eliminating the gender pay gap unless we see a more equal sharing of parental duties as the new norm.

“Until fathers can take up more parental responsibility, particularly when their children are very young, we won’t see a reduction in the gender pay gap.”

The findings were published ahead of Father’s Day, on June 19, and alongside findings suggested policy changes the government could make to progress gender equality.

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