Gen Y are lazy and don’t do any work says old people who don’t do any work. But given we’re a generation of entrepreneurs and live in a constantly connected world, the evidence suggests the opposite. A recently published study in the journal Social Science & Medicine shows that if you’re a female and you’re working more than 39 hours a week, you could be putting your mental health at risk. The threshold was 47 hours for males, though not because they’re more resilient in that area. Instead, the authors of the study stated it was due to them spending less time doing unpaid domestic work, including child care, in their homes
“Long work hours erode a person’s mental and physical health, because it leaves less time to eat well and look after themselves properly,” said Huong Dinh, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at Australian National University, in a released statement.
“Despite the fact that women on average are as skilled as men, women on average have lower paid jobs and less autonomy than men, and they spend much more time on care and domestic work,” she added. “Given the extra demands placed on women, it’s impossible for women to work long hours often expected by employers unless they compromise their health.”
Data was collected from more than 8,000 Australian adults, aged 24 to 64, in order to find the results. Given the expansive study, the conclusions are rather decisive and broad. Though most attention was paid to the gap between female and males who were affected. This disparity was surmised by the researchers rather well:
When systematic differences in resources and rewards on and off the job are also taken into account, our study shows the work hour limit widens further to 34 hours for women compared to 47 hours for men.
This gives men a 13 hour time advantage on the job, largely because they spend much less time on care or domestic work than women. Only if women were to spend very little time on care or domestic work, and if they had the same resources and rewards on and off the job, would the work hour limits converge.
Under these assumptions men and women without care responsibilities can work up to 48 hours before their mental health is affected. However, anyone who spends significant time caring for others or doing domestic work is unable to work long hours without facing a likely health trade-off.
To summarise, if you’re one of the many humans who are juggling uni and work, or running a start-up, or just have a shitty boss, it might be time to tone things back a little bit.