Division of work and care between parents often different than desired

A young mother cycles through the park with her two children on a transport bike.
Four out of 10 parents of children under the age of 18 would prefer to divide work and care tasks equally. In practice, this is the case for less than 1 in 10 couples. For almost half of parents, the father works more while the mother takes on a larger share of the care for the child(ren). This is evident from the Emancipation Monitor 2022 published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Fathers and mothers think almost the same about how work and care for the children should be divided. The majority (60 percent) would like to share care responsibilities equally. However, more men than women (35 versus 16 percent) believe that a woman is better suited to raise young children than a man.

Division of paid work and care for children, 2022
 Work divided equally / care divided equally (% of over-16s with
a partner and child(ren))
Man has more work tasks / care divided equally (% of over-16s with
a partner and child(ren))
Man has more work tasks / woman has more care tasks (% of over-16s with
a partner and child(ren))
Work divided equally / woman has more care tasks (% of over-16s with
a partner and child(ren))
Otherwise (% of over-16s with
a partner and child(ren))
Never thought about it (% of over-16s with
a partner and child(ren))
Desired division4120119613
Actual division¹⁾92648512
1)There is an equal division when the difference is a maximum of 4 hours.

Most mothers work 20-35 hours per week

Forty-five percent of mothers either reduce their working hours or stop working altogether after the birth of their first child. Most mothers with children under 18 work between 20 and 35 hours per week. Slightly more mothers work 35 hours per week or more (full-time) when their youngest child is in secondary education than when it is under the age of 13.

Men are far less likely to adjust their work patterns when they become first-time fathers; they continue to work full-time for the most part. A large part-time job (28-35 hours per week) is most common among fathers when the youngest child does not yet go to school. When the youngest child starts attending school, the group of fathers with a large part-time job is smaller.

Working hours (per week) of parents with a partner, 2022
   No work (%)Under 12 hrs (%)12-20 hrs (%)20-28 hrs (%)28-35 hrs (%)35 hrs or more (%)
FathersYoungest child
under 4 yrs
4.90.60.52.915.675.5
FathersYoungest child
4 to 11 yrs
5.90.90.72.110.979.5
FathersYoungest child
12 to 17 yrs
6.50.70.62882.2
MothersYoungest child
under 4 yrs
182.56.529.127.316.6
MothersYoungest child
4 to 11 yrs
163.68.328.324.819
MothersYoungest child
12 to 17 yrs
13.32.97.725.526.524.2

Majority think mothers with young children should work 28 hours at most

The fact that fathers work more than mothers is in line with the opinion of the population aged 16 years and over. However, people do feel that fathers and mothers should work less than they actually do. Over 80 percent of the population think that mothers with children under 4 should not work or work a maximum of 28 hours per week. In case of children aged 4 to 12 years, 28 hours per week or more is considered appropriate more often.

Fathers with children under 13 should work at least 28 hours per week, according to most people. Working 35 hours per week or more is considered appropriate less often for fathers with children under 4. When there are no (longer any) children under 13, the majority think that both men and women should work at least 28 hours.

Opinion about appropriate working hours for parents, 2022
OuderLeeftijd kindNo work (% of population aged 16 yrs and over)Under 12 hrs (% of population aged 16 yrs and over)12-20 hrs (% of population aged 16 yrs and over)20-28 hrs (% of population aged 16 yrs and over)28-35 hrs (% of population aged 16 yrs and over)35 hrs or more (% of population aged 16 yrs and over)
FathersChild
0 to 3 yrs
339203926
FathersChild
4 to 11 yrs
115164236
MothersChild
0 to 3 yrs
19142426143
MothersChild
4 to 11 yrs
292233267

Minority believe childcare is good for babies

If the father works five days per week and the mother three to four days, more childcare would be needed than the population (aged 16 years and over) think is good for babies in particular. Nearly two thirds are not convinced that a few days (two to three) per week at a nursery is good for babies under 1 year. In the case of toddlers aged 1 or 2 years, almost half think so. The situation is different when toddlers reach the age of 2 or 3: three quarters of the Dutch population think a few days of nursery attendance would be good. Only when it comes to care for schoolchildren do men and women differ in opinion: slightly more men than women think childcare is good for children aged 4 years or older.

A few days at nursery good for child, 2022
Leeftijd kindMen (16 yrs and over) (% (strongly) agree)Women (16 yrs and over) (% (strongly) agree)
Baby, under 1 yr3536
Toddler, 1 yr4749
Toddler, 2 or 3 yrs7275
Schoolchild, 4 yrs or older5550

2 in 3 part-time working mothers would like to work more

Of mothers who have children under 18 and work part-time, two out of three would like to work more hours under certain conditions. This is as often as the average for women who work less than 35 hours. Especially if the household income is no longer enough to have the usual standard of living, mothers consider the option of working more. They would also want to extend their working week if work could be better combined with private life. Both conditions are cited by 30 percent of mothers. For mothers with children under 13, this is followed by good and inexpensive childcare (20 percent).