My Big, Fat, Greek Happy Home

In a scholarly article by demographers Tanja van der Lippe, Marieke Voorpostel, Belinda Hewitt published in the July issue of the Demographic Research journal, Greek couples argued the least about matters of housework, paid work, and overall money issues, as compared to 21 other European Countries.

The study involved heterosexual couples between ages 18 and 45, all living together and most married, from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The country in which couples argued the most about housework was Finland – over 90 percent – while in Greece only 28 percent squabbled over divvying up the chores.

Iceland led in terms of arguments over job-related issues, at 69 percent, while Greece, again, was the lowest with 31 percent.

As for overall money issues, Finland again, was highest, while Greece, the most harmonious in all three categories, tied with Portugal for the low at 37 percent.

To some extent, the authors argue, married couples argue less about financial matters as they tend to be more stable financially than their non-married cohabitating counterparts. That might be true if looking at Greece by itself – in which case only 3 percent of the respondents were unmarried. But only 4 percent were unmarried in Poland and Slovakia, where 57 and 61 percent, respectively, argued about money.

The results are telling insofar as Finland, Norway, and Sweden, which consistently rank high in quality-of-life polls, were at or near the top in all three of the particular domestic argument categories.

Though the scholars emphasized factors such as number of children in the household, number of years of cohabitation, etc., without actually revealing that data, they did not analyze or even discuss the large disparities based on the country in question.

Do Greeks have other things on their minds than these issues, and thus do not spend time arguing about money? Are gender roles in Greece more clearly-defined than in other European nations so as to obviate the need for an argument (in other words, is it less likely that a Greek woman would even consider asking her husband to wash the dishes, as compared to, say, a Finnish woman)?

Looking at it differently, is it possible that Greek respondents were less forthright in answering – downplaying their household spats?  Not necessarily because they wanted to receive the conductors of the study, but because what to their counterparts in other European nations might be deemed an “an argument” or “disagreement,” to Greeks is a “discussion.”

In an article in Quartz magazine about the study, reported Zainab Mudallal concluded that Greeks are “living the good life” But Mudallal, too, does not speculate as to why that is. And it is particularly telling considering that Greece remains in the midst of a financial crisis. Could it be that in times of crisis, couples stick together and argue less, in order to deal with the problems outside the home as team?

It would seem the results of this initial study are intriguing enough to be examined in greater detail by other demographers in future scholarly articles.



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