CHARTS: How American Men and Women Spend Their Time

New Labor Department data show that men work more than women, but women work harder at home.


The 2012 American Time Use Survey highlights significant differences in how men and women spend their time.

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Men stay at the office longer than women, are way less involved in housework or childcare, and watch more TV than women do.

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This is not a 1960s sitcom; it's a snapshot of how American men and women spend their time, according to data from the 2012 American Time Use Survey, the results of which have been released by the Labor Department. Below, a rundown of some of the fascinating differences of how Americans of different genders spend their time.

Men Work More Than Women Do

Men work longer hours than women do, and by a long shot: on days that they work, men work just over eight hours per day on average, nearly a full hour longer than women did. However, these figures are not that surprising, given that women are less likely than men to work full-time. Perhaps more surprising is that even among full-time workers (those working 35 or more hours per week), men still work longer days, by more than half an hour.

...At the Office, That Is.

While men spend more time at work, women by far perform more duties around the house. On an average day, women do three times as much housework as men do and more than twice the amount of food preparation and cleaning. Men do lead women in one area of home improvement: lawn and garden care. Men spend an average of 15 minutes per day on this, while women do roughly half that.

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Women also spend nearly twice as much time caring for other household members, like children, than men do.

Those figures reflect the broader U.S. civilian population, however, not just couples with kids, meaning that the data come with many caveats. For example, as there are more single mothers than single fathers, that can skew the data to show more time spent with children among women.

Women Get More Shut-Eye

Whether or not they have children in the home, women are getting more sleep than men are, by about 15 minutes per night. In homes with the youngest child under 6, the gap is more than half an hour wide.

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That sleep gap persists across the population of working men and women. Take away employment, however, and the differences between the sexes get much smaller. Among non-working men and women with young children, women sleep about 15 minutes longer per day than the men, but for non-working men and women with older children or no children under 18, differences in sleep amounts virtually disappear. And all of those people who are not going to work every day are getting well over nine hours of sleep per night — far more than the rest of the population.

Men Are Bigger Couch Potatoes

For whatever reason, women are getting more sleep than men, but it's not that men are trading all of that shut-eye for work. Men spent nearly a full hour more per day on leisure activities than women last year. And while men exercise more than women, they also watch significantly more television than women do.

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