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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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