Survey: Fathers face hurdles to do more housework and child care

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More than 70 percent of mothers want their partners to do more household chores and child-rearing tasks, while more than 60 percent of fathers hope to take on more of these duties, according to a recent survey. 

Although their desires are mutual, respondents’ answers to the questions in the Tokyo metropolitan government survey highlight what prevents fathers from assuming more of the household and parenting responsibilities.

The largest portion, or 61.4 percent, of fathers, chose “shorter working hours” for what is needed for them to take more of the household and child-rearing duties.

Meanwhile, when mothers were asked what is needed for their spouses to do more housework and child care, the largest portion, or 52 percent, chose “Change in spouses’ awareness (about such tasks).”

These questions allowed both fathers and mothers to choose multiple answers.

Just over 46 percent of mothers chose “shorter working hours for spouses.”

The metropolitan government published at the end of April the preliminary results of its Children and Families in Tokyo survey that it conducted in fiscal 2022.

The government has conducted the survey once every five years since fiscal 1984 to learn about the lives of Tokyo residents including parenting.

In the latest survey, the metropolitan government sent questionnaires to 10,800 residents in 6,000 households in the capital. It received replies from 5,202 people in 3,013 households.

On how couples divide housework and child care chores, the largest portion of both fathers and mothers said, “Fathers do 20 percent and mothers 80 percent.”

However, 41.4 percent of fathers and 35.8 percent of mothers said that ideally, both partners would each share 50 percent of such tasks.

While 71.5 percent of mothers said that they want their spouses to do more household and child-rearing tasks, 63.2 percent of fathers said they hope to undertake these duties more.

Another question asked if respondents have had to adjust working hours for child care purposes.

While only 38.2 percent of fathers responded yes to this question, 65.8 percent of mothers gave an affirmative response.

The margin shows that it’s mothers, rather than fathers, who are more likely to have to change work conditions to look after their children.

More fathers, or 13.5 percent, said they have taken parental leave at work, up 8.7 percentage points from the previous survey in fiscal 2017.

Similarly, 48.8 percent of mothers said they have taken maternity leave, higher than the 36.1 percent in the previous survey.

The Asahi Shimbun

For the questions aimed at parents who have taken parental leave, the largest portion of fathers, or 21.3 percent, said that they would ideally take paternity leave for “one to three months.”

However, 55.6 percent said that they took paternity leave for less than one month.

The largest portion of the mothers, or 36.1 percent, said that their ideal maternity leave duration would be “two years or more.”

But “between one year and one and a half years” was the most typical length of maternity leave actually taken, cited by 33.7 percent of the mothers, the survey showed.

Among all responding households, 2,565 had both fathers and mothers and both parents were working in 66.7 percent of them, up 5.2 percentage points from the previous survey.

The survey also showed that of all working mothers, 47.8 percent were full-time permanent employees, 5.7 percentage points more than in the fiscal 2017 survey.

In comparison, only 29.9 percent of the working mothers were part-timers, down from the 35.3 percent in the previous survey.

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