Couples sharing housework, childcare could boost New Zealand's economy by $1.5 billion

Couples sharing housework and childcare could boost the New Zealand economy by $1.5 billion dollars, according to a new survey.

The survey of 2400 people by Westpac New Zealand and Deloitte looked at how couples share housework.

It found 73 percent of respondents feel if both partners work, they should share the housework equally.

But it found only 10 percent of couples who both work full time and 7 percent of couples who work the same number of hours share the housework 50-50.

It also found a significant difference between the number of unpaid hours men and women do.

Men in couples where both partners work full time said on average they did 19 hours of unpaid work and women said they did 28.

The report suggested if men took on more unpaid work at home, women could do more paid work which would boost the economy and the household's income.

The survey looked at the higher earner - often men - doing 1.3 hours less paid work and picking up 3.8 hours of extra work at home, while the lower paid earner - often women - took on 4.3 hours of paid work and did 3.8 hours less of housework or childcare.

The modelling showed at a national level this would result in increased hours of paid work across the country and boost the economy by $1.5 billion.

It could also improve New Zealand's pay gap and the financial wellbeing of women.

The report suggested four changes to improve Aotearoa's economy - normalising flexible working hours, encouraging men to take parental leave, addressing childcare costs and confronting traditional gender roles. 

Westpac chief executive David McLean said the Government needs to address inequalities in parental leave policies. 

"The rubber really hits the road when a child is born in the family and that's when women do most of the child-rearing, often because they are already in a lower-paid job than the man so it makes economic sense for them to stay home."

He said New Zealand should follow the lead of Scandinavian and Nordic countries which incentivise fathers to take an active role in parenting.