Health A to Z

Women's Health: Housework causes as much illness and stress as other jobs

Survey shows working mothers suffer from aches and pains, as well as insomnia and irritability

Housework is as likely to cause illness as any other job, according to research by German scientists.

The survey showed that housewives suffered just as much from stress and other work-related injuries as regular employees.

“Within the family, women traditionally still bear the main burden for housework. Working mothers who combine housework and a job in particular often have a bad state of health,” says Dr. Christof Wolf, a sociologist and study co-author.

He says women with children were the worst affected as they often had to deal with both the family and the household — equivalent to two full-time jobs. He adds that the often poorer health of women could partly be explained by the strain from working too much even though they were not in employment.

While the health consequences of stress related to paid work are well researched, the influence of stress in the household is not. The new study reported the main causes of housework stress are too much routine, social isolation, lack of time and a lack of recognition for the work done.

Working mothers suffered from neck, shoulder and back pains, and stress-related conditions such as shortness of breath, lack of motivation, irritability, vertigo and insomnia.

The report was compiled using data on 700 women from the Cologne region.