How Much Time Do Teenagers Spend Not Goofing Off?

Women do more household chores than men. But how about teenage girls? Here’s the New York Times:

One recent analysis, for example, found that boys ages 15 to 19 do about half an hour of housework a day, and girls about 45 minutes. Although girls spend a little less time on chores than they did a decade ago, the time that boys spend hasn’t significantly changed.

For some reason this got me curious, so I clicked the link and got this very brief note in the PAA Affairs newsletter from last summer:

Huh. Girls appear to spend a higher percentage of something doing a higher percentage of something, but beyond that it’s not clear what this chart shows. I wonder what the Times reporter took from it?

Well, it’s just data from the American Time Use Survey. I can recreate it myself pretty easily. So I did:

So there you have it. On average, girls spend more time on household chores and caring for household members, while boys spend more time on work and school. In the broad category of “not goofing off,” girls spend 5 hours and 26 minutes per day, while boys spend 5 hours and 47 minutes. In case you’re interested, the other seven categories, which I bundled together under “goofing off,” include:

  • Personal care, including sleep
  • Eating and drinking
  • Purchasing goods and services
  • Civic and religious activities
  • Leisure and sports
  • Phone calls, email
  • Other

What does it all mean? I dunno. Adolescent girls do perform more time on household chores than boys but less time on education. So is our problem that girls need to spend more time on school? Boys need to spend more time on household chores? Or what?

In any case, I have no idea how the top chart persuaded the Times reporter that “boys ages 15 to 19 do about half an hour of housework a day, and girls about 45 minutes.” Perhaps both the y-axis and the labels are supposed to be minutes, not percentages? That must be it. But the raw data says the actual number is 63 minutes vs. 32 minutes. It is a mystery sometimes where the Times gets its information

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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