Happy Father's Day: Dad's chores worth less than Mom's

Happy Father's Day vs. Happy's Mother's Day? The latter gets far more attention, but there may be a reason: Dad's work around the house isn't even worth half that of his spouse, according to a recent survey for Father's Day. 

Ralph Lauer/AP/File
A model grills a steak at his Fort Worth, Texas, home. A new Father's Day survey calculating the value of the typical household chores done by fathers, like grilling, found that Dad's chore value went up in 2013. But it's still far below the value of housework done by Mom.

Father’s Day is the runt of the gift-giving holiday litter. Americans are expected to spend a combined $13.3 billion on Dad for Father’s Day in 2013, far less than they spent on the Christmas holidays ($580 billion), Valentine’s Day ($18 billion), and Mother’s Day ($20.7 billion), according to the National Retail Federation.

There are plenty of reasons Father’s Day gets short shrift. Dads are difficult to shop for. They’re picky about gifts. The gifts they want are often prohibitively expensive.  In the rare event you find an affordable, easy-to-find gift that Dad actually wants, he’ll usually buy it for himself before informing you.

But there might be another reason: According to a recent survey, Dad’s household chores are less valuable than Mom’s. By a lot.

Insure.com, a consumer insurance information site, puts out an annual Father’s Day Index that calculates the monetary value of the work the typical father does around the house, using Labor Department wage statistics for jobs that correlate to typical "dad" chores. Home repairs, for example, are calculated using wage data for maintenance and repair workers. Removing spiders from the house and squishing bugs correlates to pest control; driving kids to school and extra-curricular activities to chauffeurs, etc.

This year, the Father’s Day Index put Dad’s chore value at $23,344, an increase from last year’s $20,248. The 2013 value for moms, using the same methodology, is $59,862 – over twice as much. Mom’s household value has been dropping for the past few years. So perhaps household labor is beginning to become more equally shared.

The survey should be taken lightly: Much of the value jump on the Dad end, after all, can be attributed to hourly wage increases for drivers, teachers, and plumbers in 2013. But it is yet another indication that the division of household labor and career obligations are shaking out more evenly between mothers and fathers. A Pew Research Center study released this past spring found that fathers are devoting more hours than ever to child care and housework: an average of 17 hours per week in 2011 compared with 6.5 hours in 1965.

Mothers, predictably, are spending more weekly hours on paid work than they were in 1965. And the mother is now the sole or primary breadwinner in 4 in 10 American families, according to Pew, quadrupling the 1960 rate.

All of this is great news, but it might not hurt to dote on the nation’s approximately 70 million dads a little extra this year as we inch toward gender equality. To do so, stop by and get a gift at one of the 7,368 men’s clothing stores, 15,542 hardware stores, or 21,418 sporting goods stores in the US, according to Census Bureau statistics. 

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