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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Why Men do less Housework than Women

I have previously mused that contrary to the monolithic and one-dimensional claims of feminists about sexism, "another reason that might explain why women do more housework than men is that they are more fastidious".

Later, I had come across an article on bachelor pads having 15 times the bacteria of bachelorettes', but now I've been pointed to two studies (via Clear Language, Clear Mind) which show this clearly.

One study found that women are more than 1.5 times more likely to wash their hands in a public toilet and another that 76% of women vs 57% of men did so.

Beyond hygiene-related housework tasks, in the Big Five Inventory of personality traits, women were found to be more conscientious than men across 55 nations (n = 17,637). People higher in conscientiousness are more careful, organised, self-disciplined and careful - all of which would manifest in more housework done. We also know that women are more neurotic than men. If you are stressed easily or worry a lot, undone housework could motivate you to do it more easily.

We can model this using game theory with two players: a man and a woman.

Since the woman prizes a clean house more, we know that where the housework is not done, she is more unhappy than the man.

We thus have the base payoffs (assuming no cost to doing housework):
Female happiness at undone housework: -8
Male happiness at undone housework: -4

A negative happiness level, of course, indicates unhappiness.

Since the woman prizes a clean house more, we can similarly observe that where the housework is done, she is more happy than the man.

We thus have the base payoffs (assuming no cost to doing housework):
Female happiness at done housework (regardless of who has done it): 8
Male happiness at done housework (regardless of who has done it): 4

Let us make the simplifying assumption that the cost to each of doing the housework individually is 10, and that if both do the housework, the cost to each is 6 (many hands make light work, but we have diseconomies of scale).

We then have the following payoff matrix:

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We can see that the ideal outcome for either party is for the other person to do all of the housework while still themselves profiting from the done housework. However, within the confines of this game (e.g. no Lysistrata antics from the woman, and no beatings from the man), this is not possible.

Addendum: Alternate link to payoff table

Solving for Nash equilibria, we find that the Pure Strategy Nash Equilibrium is when the Man does not do any housework, and the Woman does it all.
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