Single slobs and domestic do-gooders

A study finds single women spend less time cleaning house.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published February 23, 2007 11:25PM (EST)

A new study has found that single women do less housework than women who live with a romantic partner, the BBC reports. Helene Couprie of Toulouse University examined data from the British Household Panel Survey on more than 2,000 working people and found that coupled, cohabitating women spent five more hours per week on housework than single women (15 hours versus 10). On the other hand, single men spent two more hours per week on housework than cohabitating men (seven hours compared to five).

The disparity between single and cohabitating women's cleaning habits could be explained by any number of things. Women might feel more pressure to play domestic diva when they're living with their significant other. But, I'd also love to see an analysis of single women who live alone versus single women who live with a (platonic) roommate. Having a witness of any kind to your slothfulness can be an incredibly motivating factor; it could be that women are just more prone to that pressure.

Couprie says gender-fixed household roles are tough to shake; kids typically grow up to emulate the roles exhibited by their parents. Changing those roles is a matter of "social evolution," she says. Which is exactly what I will tell the next person who casts a disapproving eye upon the precarious pile of dishes in my sink. That black mold isn't a sign of my laziness, but my higher evolutionary standing! (Not to mention, mold can be an excellent litmus test for potential mates.)

Tracy Clark-Flory

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