Is there really a second shift, and if so, who does it?

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This paper draws on data from the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Time Use Survey (TUS) (over 4,000 randomly selected households) to tease out the dimensions of the ‘second shift’. Predictions that as women entered the paid workforce men would contribute more to household labour have largely failed to eventuate. This underpins the view that women are working a second shift because they are shouldering a dual burden of paid and unpaid work. However, time use research seems to show that when both paid and unpaid work is counted, male and female workloads are in total very similar. This has led to suggestions that a literal second shift is a myth; that it exists in the sense that women do more domestic work than men, but not in the sense that they work longer hours in total. Using a more accurate and telling measure of workload than previous research (paid and unpaid labour including multitasked activities), this paper explores the second shift and how it relates to family configuration, ethnicity and indicators of class and socioeconomic standing. It finds a clear disparity between the total workloads of mothers and fathers, much of which consists of simultaneous (secondary) activity, and some demographic differences in female (but not male) total workloads. It concludes that the view that the second shift is a myth is only sustainable by averaging social groups very broadly and by excluding multitasking from the measurement of total work activity.
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Craig, Lyn
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