Friday, September 28, 2007

Happiness and Homemaking

David Leonhardt in the Times reports on studies of happiness:

Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past. Forty years ago, a typical woman spent about 23 hours a week in an activity considered unpleasant, or 40 more minutes than a typical man. Today, with men working less, the gap is 90 minutes.

These trends are reminiscent of the idea of “the second shift,” the name of a 1989 book by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild, arguing that modern women effectively had to hold down two jobs. The first shift was at the office, and the second at home.

But researchers who have looked at time-use data say the second-shift theory misses an important detail. Women are not actually working more than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They are instead doing different kinds of work. They’re spending more time on paid work and less on cleaning and cooking.

This fits with several other posts. We've turned to fast food and eating out, not because people schemed to force feed us with bad food, but because it was fast, convenient, and saved time for doing other things that "we" (i.e, women) wanted to do. It doesn't hurt that sugary and fat food tastes good and the typical fast food meal tastes better than much of the home-cooked food of the 1940's and 50's. After all, specialization means that someone can learn to do things well. And in our market economy if one can earn money and buy a million-dollar house by selling food through franchises, there's nothing wrong with that. (There is, but that's another subject.)

No comments: