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Who keeps the house clean?

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A friend sent a link to a new online publication he started called “Scroll.in – News that matters”.  I love lots about it and while the current focus is on the Indian elections, an earlier article on domestic matters caught my eye:

It’s true, Indian men hardly do any housework

Best housecleanerGrowing up, we were used to our parents both doing housework and putting us to work too! For a time, Saturday’s were even ‘Dad days’ when he taught us how to make bread, chilli and oat cakes or blow up home-made volcanos while my mother went to the University to study.

My sister is a veterinarian and her partner a drummer. When they had their 1st child, she stayed home for a couple of months and her partner the balance. At the one year mark when paternity benefits stopped, her partner remained home as the ‘primary’ parent. Having the father stay home and the mother work seemed perfectly normal.

But it is not…. It remains an anomaly globally.

OECD recently did a study examining how many minutes per day on average men spend on unpaid domestic work.

Organisation for Economic Development

According to the report, men in Slovenia are stars and do the most with 118 minutes of household work per day in the world! Cheers! Danish guys aren’t far behind at 107 minutes.

Slipping further down the ranks, Canadian gents fair marginally better than American at 83 instead of 82 minutes, however certainly well above their erstwhile colonial parent – British men who clock only 66 minutes.

Men in China are under an hour a day at 48 mins, from Japan even less at half that!

But here is the kicker – of the 30 countries considered, guess where India landed?

Dead last – at only 19 minutes / day!!

So what does this mean for a woman and man who grow up with very different expectations around household work? Talk about a cultural battleground behind closed doors!

The first time in Delhi I saw a man order his mother / wife / sister to get water / beer / chai, I was aghast! This issue of who does the work at home is easily one of the most telling and personal of issues.

What is an unspoken element in this equation is that in places like India, behind most successful men AND women are very efficient PAID domestic support!

And while I am blessed with a partner who is incredibly considerate and currently spoiling me rotten while I’m down with a busted ankle, he can barely function in the kitchen. Who stepped in? Our delightful maid added cooking to her other duties. Naturally for us it is boon in our time of need and for her, we’ve increased her salary.

So ladies and gents… when looking for love, consider the not so small matter of mutual expectations on who keeps the house clean!


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  1. Very amusing 🙂

    I so need a maid… I’m crap crap crap at housework.

  2. Expat Eye says:

    I need a maid or a Slovenian 😉 Ireland doesn’t do too well on that list – I’m hoping Latvia didn’t even make it 😉

    • Haha! I noticed that the Irish lads are lagging far behind!

      Latvia not covered in this chart… Where would you rank them? After all, you are the expert and regularly get yourself into some controversy or the other! 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’ve never lived with one 🙂 Yummy Janis was very good though!

        • Promising indeed! There are definitely exceptions to every norm too. 😉

          When my partner gets into his cleaning obsessive mode, he gets completely absorbed with scrubbing and polishing?! I recall one time coming home and my old toaster oven was positively gleaming – I don’t think it looked that good when I bought it more than 10 years ago!

          • Expat Eye says:

            Ha, my dad is the same! Every now and then he gets sick of looking at the mess so he goes into a cleaning frenzy – much to my mam’s delight 😉

  3. Tim says:

    Fyi – Its the Danes that are at 107, Dutch at 83.

  4. sarahinguangzhou says:

    I do wonder how they get these figures. Do they just ask men ‘how much housework do you do?’ Men are notorious for exaggerating everything.
    Plus my experience is that it’s always selective housework. You might get them to cook or walk a vacuum cleaner round, but you’ll never find them cleaning a bathroom or folding and putting washing away.

  5. Ireland…near the bottom. In a mostly catholic country where many many kids are the norm, and the government pays you for having them, I guess that is to be expected. Where did you get that set of stats from? I’d like to piss off my Irish friends on FB with it 🙂

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