Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.28 9 Jul 2019


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Almost half of women and 30% of men provide care for others on a daily basis, according to new research.

The study is a joint effort between the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

It found adults in Ireland spend an average of 16 hours per week on caring and 14.5 hours on housework.

The time spent on care and housework combined is the third highest in the European Union, according to the study.

It says this reflects "the relatively low State involvement in support for caring and sees Ireland more in line with southern and eastern European countries, rather than with Scandinavian and western EU states."

The report examined Irish data collected over more than a decade to investigate involvement in unpaid work in the areas of childcare, care of older adults or those with a disability, and housework.

It also looked at how people's involvement changed over time, and how Ireland compares to other EU member states.

The majority (55%) of those providing unpaid care on a daily basis in Ireland are in employment.

Gender gap

On average, women spend double the time of men on caring and almost twice as much time on housework.

A substantial gender gap persists even among men and women doing the same amount of paid work - while the gap between women and men's hours of unpaid work is particularly wide.

Between 2007 and 2011, the time spent by men on care and housework rose, but this returned to 2007 levels in 2016 - suggesting this was a response to the economic shock of the recession rather than an underlying shift in behaviour.

The report has suggested a number of policy changes, including in social and employment policies that support carers, facilitate the combination of care and employment and encourage greater male participation in care.

It has also called for the need to address "the clear connection" between caring responsibility and gender inequality in the labour market.

Emily Logan is chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

"As life expectancy increases and medical therapeutics advance, Ireland is experiencing a transformation.

"With relatively low State involvement in support for caring, adults and children are reliant on being cared for and supported by family.

"The State must remain focused on the reform of Article 41.2 not only as an exercise in removing an archaic reference, but also as a means of introducing a long overdue recognition of the public good realised within Ireland's families and in caring roles."

Article 41.2 states that the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

"The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home", it adds.

Th full report, 'Caring and Unpaid Work in Ireland', is available here


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ESRI EU Emily Logan Gender Gap Irish Human Rights And Equality Commission Unpaid Work

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