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Gender differences in work–home interplay and symptom perception among Swedish white-collar employees
  1. L Berntsson1,
  2. U Lundberg2,
  3. G Krantz3
  1. 1Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 3Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 L Berntsson
 The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Box 457, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden; leeni.berntsson{at}


Objective: To analyse gender differences in paid and unpaid workload and symptoms in matched groups of Swedish white-collar workers with children.

Design and setting: Paid and unpaid workload and perceived stress from paid work, conflict between demands and control over household work were measured by a total workload (TWL) questionnaire. Some symptoms were rated with regard to frequency and severity as a measure of health. Cross-sectional analyses were performed.

Participants: Matched groups of male (n = 440) and female (n = 529) well-educated white-collar workers in full-time employment, aged 32–58 years and living with children in the home.

Results: Women in higher positions in Sweden are healthier than the average population of women, but report more symptoms than men in the same position as well as more stress from paid work, more conflict between demands and a greater TWL. However, women also reported more control over household duties and TWL was not associated with more symptoms. The men were mainly focused on their paid work role and perhaps even more so than men in the general population as they were fairly resistant to feelings of conflicting demands.

Conclusion: Even among matched groups of full-time employed, well-educated men and women, traditional gender differences in division of responsibilities and time allocation were found. Even though the women were healthy at this stage, they might risk future ill health, owing to high workload, stress and feelings of conflicting demands.

  • TWL, total workload

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  • This project was supported by grants to Ulf Lundberg from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • The material of this study has not been published in, or submitted to, another journal.

    This study followed the ethical rules of Stockholm University. The participants were informed about the anonymity of data processing and presentation, and were given the right to withdraw from participation at any stage of the research process.

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