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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Housework 'worth' 700bn
Woman washing
Within a couple, women do much more housework
If housework was paid, it would be worth 700bn to the UK economy, suggests a new report.

The comprehensive survey of how we spend our leisure time indicates that if unpaid household chores were treated like other work, it would be valued at more than three-quarters of the paid economy.

The UK 2000 Time Use Survey, released by the Office for National Statistics, also shows women spend nearly double the time men do on housework.

And more than half our time is spent sleeping, eating and watching television.

Daily Housework & Main Chores
Men: 2hrs 20mins
Pet care

Women: 4hrs
Cleaning house
The survey involved interviews with 6,500 households, including 11,700 individuals.

Housework included providing housing, transport, nutrition, clothing and laundry services, unpaid care of children and adults, and voluntary activity.

Its monetary benefit to the economy was calculated using the ONS's experimental Household Satellite Account and applied to the year 2000, although the report warned to treat the figures with some caution.

For instance, the value of meals was the cost of the ingredients and use of equipment, the cost of accomodation for cooking and transport for shopping, plus value of hours spent.

Woman scrubbing the floor
The average hourly 'rate' of housework is 4.72
The average hourly rate was 4.72, which varied between 2.59 for providing meals and 11.19 for providing housing.


Selma James of the Wages For Housework Campaign told BBC News 24 her group thought women should be paid 500-600 per week.

She said women have worked for and are entitled to the wage.

"We also want the acknowledgement from society that the work we are doing is fundamental and important," she said.

Housework counted for "basic work in society" she added.

Within married or cohabiting couples with children where both partners work full-time, the woman spends nearly four hours a day on household work, and the man two hours and 20 minutes.

In 2000, women spent 27% of their time on household production and 7% in paid work, compared to men's 20% on housework and 12% in paid work.

For childcare outside the household, nearly 70% was done by people aged over 45, probably grandparents.

Daily sport
16 mins watching on TV
4 mins taking part
A pilot scheme to pay grandparents for looking after their grandchildren is being studied by ministers, in an effort to help single parents back to work.

The report also suggested women sleep eight minutes a day more than men.

Although half our total time is spent eating, sleeping and watching television, 80% of the population reported doing some form of physical exercise in the four weeks prior to the survey.

The top three activities were walking two miles or more, swimming and keep fit.

The BBC's Jenny Scott
"So much to do, so little time"

Who's doing it? Should they get paid for it?
See also:

06 Jul 01 | Business
Women still do most housework
12 Jul 01 | UK
UK is 'still a man's world'
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