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Research shows women take the lion’s share of responsibility for childcare

Women take the lion’s share of responsibility and financial cost of childcare, according to new Aviva research

  • Men claim they contribute more to household finances
  • Over 50% of couples disagree on financial decisions

Thursday 19 December 2019, Dublin: Women are more likely to claim to do the lion’s share of the housework and the financial cost of childcare, according to new research from Ireland’s leading insurer, Aviva.  The research, conducted by RED C with a representative sample of 1,205 adults either married or living together, found that 58% of women claimed to do most of the housework compared with a paltry 9% of men making the claim. Only 25% of those surveyed admitted to sharing the housework equally. The findings also revealed that most of the responsibility for childcare amongst those with children fell to women at 46% compared to 7% of men.

Interestingly, when it comes to household finances, the stereotyping is evident once again. Males, ABCIs and those working longer hours are more likely to claim that they contribute more to the household finances than their partners. Household expenses were found to be the most shared expense. However, the respondent themselves are more likely to believe that they contribute more than their partner. The only difference here is that women are more likely to say that their partner contributes most to all household expenses except for childcare where they claim to contribute the most.

However, the picture changes dramatically when asked about who contributes most to financial products such as insurance, pensions, savings and investments with 45% of men claiming they contribute the most, with only 15% of women saying that they did. Interestingly, these products are contributed to equally by those in the 18-34-year-old age group. Again, the research showed that 35% of men pay most of the mortgage or rent payments compared with only 12% of women. Equally other household debts such as credit cards and personal loans are paid primarily by men at 35%, with only 14% of women paying the most.

Only one in nine couples claim to never disagree about financial decisions, with one in eight claiming they disagree regularly. Younger couples (aged 18-34) are four times more likely to disagree when making financial decisions than couples aged over 55. Two third of couples who are struggling financially disagree regularly compared with 41% of couples who are comfortably off. Whilst the findings show that most couples are joint decision makers at 60%, males are much more likely than women to claim to be the sole decision maker at 40% v’s 28%. Interestingly, 37% of respondents said that they did not have any joint accounts. Older couples and those who own their own homes rather than renters are much more likely to have joint bank accounts, for both managing bills and for saving.

One of the most surprising elements of the research was the insight into the topics that couples discussed most prior to moving in together or getting married. Having children and how many are the most talked about topics prior to settling down at 60%. The decision to hold a joint bank account is also high on the list at 52% as is the amount to spend on buying a property (50%) and how to manage the household budget at 47%. Whilst acknowledging that these are important topics to discuss, it is astonishing that almost 50% of those surveyed did not discuss them at all.

Commenting Richard Jones, Head of Life & Pensions, Aviva said: “We were really surprised at some of the findings of this research, particularly in relation to what couples discussed prior to moving in together. Only 19% discussed how much they could spend on items without the partners’ approval, how they would deal with a financial emergency (32%), their personal debt situation (34%), and what current and future financial products they would hold at 35%. Whilst it might appear to be very unromantic to spend time discussing these topics amidst the excitement of starting a new life together, it is likely to save them having more difficult conversations down the line.

“There are many financial decisions for couples to consider, from buying the family home to insuring what they own and protecting themselves in case the unexpected happens. There are many expenses involved in raising children and there is also the important consideration of providing for their own financial security in retirement. All of these important issues are worth a discussion early on to ensure couples are on the same page”, concluded Richard Jones.

The research showed that there is little hidden between couples with just over half claiming their partner would know the full details of their own personal finances. Interestingly, older couples are slightly more likely to share this information than younger couples. However, c. 10% claimed that their partner knew very little or nothing about their personal finances. This figure rose to 13% for couples over 55 years of age.

Almost 40% of those surveyed admitted that they would struggle to make ends meet if they separated or divorced.  women were most likely to struggle financially at 43% compared to men at 34%. One quarter of those over 55 years of age have no idea how they would manage.

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Aviva Group Services Ireland Limited, a private company limited by shares. Registered in Ireland No.322579. Registered Office One Park Place, Hatch Street, Dublin 2.