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Fathers work the hardest, but not as hard as they used to…

12 June 2013 | Tags: Modern Fatherhood, families, income and work

Men with a partner and children at home work longer hours than other men in full-time work, but the number of hours they work has been in decline over the last ten years.

This is according to new research published today by NatCen Social Research and the University of East Anglia (UEA).  

Three in ten men, living in what is seen as the typical family set-up in the UK, work 48 or more hours per week and one in ten work 60 hours or more per week, higher than the average for all other men, women, lone fathers and considerably higher than men who have never had children. 

However, the number of these “typical” fathers working long hours fell between 2001 and 2011. In 2001 40 per cent of them worked more than 48 hours and 13 per cent worked more than 60 hours, compared with 31 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, a decade later.

The research findings, published today at as part of a new study seeking to map modern fatherhood in the UK, also show that during the noughties, the usual weekly working hours of all fathers fell from 47 to 45 hours per week as have the usual weekly working hours of all males working full-time.

Meanwhile, there has been a significant decline in the proportion of fathers working evenings, nights or weekends. The share of those who never work evenings has risen from 33% to 52%, never working nights has gone from 66% to 76%, while those never working weekends rose from 26% to 45%.

Mothers picking up the slack? 

Other findings on women’s working hours suggest that mother’s may be picking up some of the slack.

Mothers who live with their partner and children are more likely to be in full-time work than they were a decade ago. The proportion of households with two full-time earners has increased from 26% in 2001 to 29% in 2011.

In addition, mothers who work part-time, who have partners working full-time, now work longer hours, up from 17.7 to18.2 hours per week.

Women’s working hours have also stayed broadly the same at 40 hours per week in 2001 and 41 hours in 2011 and the usual weekly working hours of mothers working full-time has remained stable at 39 hours per week.

Changing face of families

80 per cent of families where a mother, father and children, live under the same roof have one of three models, either the traditional breadwinner (21%), two parents working full-time (29 per cent) or one parent working full-time and one part-time (31 per cent). 

The findings suggest only a minority of families, around one fifth, have the traditional male breadwinner model for families where only the father goes out to work, but this has not changed in the last ten years.

Where there has been change it has been the rise of families with two parents working full-time, up by 3 per cent, and the decrease in families with one parent working full-time and one working part-time, down by 6 per cent.

“Our research suggests that fathers are spending more time at home with their children, while mothers are spending less. There may be a number of reasons for the fall in the time fathers are spending at work, but the combination of this, with an increase in mothers working full-time will have a corresponding impact on family life in the UK.” 


For further details contact Leigh Marshall: 0207 549 8506 or 0782 803 1850, or Cat Bartman:, 01603 593007.

Notes to editors

  1. NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.
  2. The University of East Anglia (UEA) is ranked in the top one per cent of universities in the world and was ranked joint fourth for student satisfaction in the 2012 National Student Survey. It is in the UK Top 10 for research citations and is a leading member of the Norwich Research Park - one of Europe’s biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science.
  3. NatCen Social Research and the University of East Anglia have been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative to investigate fathers, work and families in twenty-first century Britain. The project aims to bridge the information gaps on fathers and establish the UK's foremost analysis about the lives of fathers using data from four large-scale survey series: Understanding Society, the European Union Labour Force Survey, the European Social Survey and the British Household Panel Study. Although principally focused on fathers in the UK, this study will also include international data to enhance understanding of the role that factors in society play in shaping fathers' work and family life.