The Household Division of Labor

There’s been no end of talk in recent years about husbands and wives ditching traditional gender roles and taking on tasks historically associated with the other sex. Now, a Gallup poll suggests it hasn’t been much more than talk.

Husbands are still much more likely than wives to be the spouse who maintains the family car (69 percent vs. 13 percent) and does the yard work (57 percent vs. 12 percent). And wives remain much more likely than husbands to be in charge of grocery shopping (53 percent vs. 16 percent) and meal preparation (58 percent vs. 14 percent).

The numbers are even more lopsidedly old-school when it comes to cleaning the house and deciding about home decor, with just 6 percent of respondents saying the husband takes the lead in these areas. Likewise, a mere 10 percent said the husband is the spouse more likely to do the laundry. Maybe a company will make a fortune with a laundry detergent aimed at husbands, but that glorious day has yet to arrive.

Some men may have an exaggerated image of themselves as sole decision makers about the household’s savings and investments. While 49 percent of husbands said they run the show there, 21 percent of wives agreed. Conversely, while 25 percent of wives said they make these decisions, 11 percent of husbands agreed.

Contrary to what you might guess, younger respondents weren’t much more likely than their elders to say their households depart from the traditional roles. Indeed, the biggest disparity skewed in the opposite direction, with husbands age 50-plus more likely than their 18-49-year-old counterparts to say they do the household’s grocery shopping (20 percent vs. 14 percent).