Even with more free time, women feel no less rushed, study finds

While more free time sounds like a good thing for everyone, new research suggests it is a better deal for men than it is for women.

A study found that men who have more free time feel less rushed than men with less leisure time. But even when women have more time free from paid work and household tasks, they don't feel less rushed.

The results suggest that women particularly mothers may feel the pressures of childcare and housework even when they have time for relaxation, said Liana Sayer, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

"The meaning of free time for men's and women's lives are quite different," Sayer said. "Especially for wives and mothers, it appears free time is still combined with other activities or responsibilities."

Women, in effect, pay a "family penalty," she said.

For example, the study found that men who were married and had children didn't feel more rushed in their daily lives than single, childless men.

But the odds of feeling sometimes or always rushed were 2.2 times higher for married women with children than it was for single, childless women.

Sayer conducted the study with Marybeth Mattingly of the University of Maryland . Their results appear in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

The researchers examined time diary data from two national surveys conducted in 1975-76 and 1998-99.

The 1975 data included 708 people from across the country interviewed by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. The 1998 data included a national sample of 1,151 people surveyed by the Survey Research Center at the University of Maryland.

In both surveys, respondents filled out a diary that showed how they spent a specific 24-hour period. Free time was measured as time not spent at paid work, household chores, child care, or self care such as eating, grooming and sleeping. Part

Contact: Liana Sayer
Ohio State University

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