Global Economy
Society at a Glance: Mexicans work longest days in OECD countries; Irish among lowest ranks for routine housework
By Finfacts Team
Apr 12, 2011 - 10:36 AM

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Underlying data OECD, Society at a Glance, 2011-04-12

Society at a Glance: Mexicans work longer days than anyone else in OECD countries, devoting 10 hours to paid and unpaid work, such as cleaning or cooking at home. Belgians work the least, at 7 hours, compared with an OECD average of 8 hours a day. The Irish are the second lowest for the amount of routine housework (cooking and cleaning).

These are among the insights in the latest edition of Society at a Glance, which gives an overview of social trends and policy developments in OECD countries. Using indicators taken from OECD databases and other sources, it shows how societies are changing over time and compared with other countries.

A special chapter in the report looks at unpaid work, such as cooking, cleaning, caring, and shopping, in 26 OECD countries, as well as China, India and South Africa.

Most unpaid work is housework. Mexicans do the most, at more than 3 hours per day, and Koreans the least, at 1 hour and 19 minutes, after the Irish at 1 hour and 30 minutes. Much of this time is spent cooking. Americans spend the least time cooking each day (30 minutes) and Turks the most in the OECD (74 minutes). Most people spend around 50 minutes a day cooking.

Shopping also makes up a big part of unpaid work. Most people in OECD countries spend 23 minutes a day shopping, with the French spending the most (32 minutes) and the Koreans the least (13 minutes).

The report also attempts to estimate how much unpaid work is worth as a percentage of GDP for the 25 OECD countries for which data are available. It finds that the value of unpaid work is considerable, equivalent to about one-third of GDP in OECD countries, ranging from a low of 19% in Korea to a high of 53% in Portugal.

Other social indicators documented in the report include fertility rates, education and health spending, inequality, migration, tolerance and trust.

Irish Indicators:

  • At 62 minutes per day, Ireland has the highest total daily care time of household and non-household members in the OECD, more than double the OECD average of 26 minutes.

  • Ireland, at just over one and a half hours spent every day, has the second lowest amount of routine housework (cooking and cleaning) in the OECD, well below the OECD average of 2 hours and 8 minutes.

  • Ireland has relatively high fertility rates compared to many other OECD countries, just about replacing the current generation (2.07 children per woman compared to replacement of 2.1), and the highest rate in OECD-Europe after Iceland.

  • The current economic crisis has hit Ireland hard, with Ireland now having the fourth highest unemployment rate in the OECD at over 12%, much higher than the OECD average of 8.1%.

The Paris based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is a think-tank for 34 mainly developed countries. OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The European Commission takes part in the work of the OECD.

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