By Patricia Sellers
August 11, 2009

From the sublime–yesterday’s post about extraordinary women spreading their power throughout the developing world–to the ridiculous.

Perhaps ridiculous, but important nonetheless…

This afternoon, I walked over to Bloomberg headquarters at 58th and Lex to hear an author, a former Goldman Sachs

managing director named Sharon Meers, talk about high-achieving men and women and how to stay successful and sane and married all at the same time.

Meers co-wrote a book called Getting to 50/50, which was released a few months ago. Lots of fascinating stats, but some of the most intriguing revolved around the male-female balance of work at home. In today’s talk to about 200 Bloombergers (a gender-balanced crowd), Meers mentioned  that when couples share housework, the risk of divorce drops.

Divorce risk drops sharply when the wife has a job. The ideal set-up is when the man earns 60% of the income and does 40% of the housework. That’s when divorce risk is lowest of all.

(The sex is also better then, by the way. When men do substantial housework, couples have more frequent and satisfying sex. Meers shared this factoid privately, and she lays it all out in her book, in a section called “When He Does Windows…”)

And where in the world do men do the most to help their wives at home? Meers doesn’t have those stats, but I found them, coincidentally, yesterday in a preview of another book due out in September. Women Want More, by Boston Consulting Group senior partner Michael Silverstein, is a marketer’s guide to capturing “the world’s largest and fastest-growing market.” As part of the research for the book, BCG asked 12,000 women in 22 countries a battery of 120 questions. And among the rich findings…

“At least one-third of men never help their wives/partners with chores,” according to the BCG survey. Where do men do the least housework? Japan. Indian men do the most. And American men? They come somewhere in between, though closer to India than Japan.

By the way, chores cause more domestic arguments than anything else except money–at least in the U.S., the BCG survey suggests. In Europe, BCG found, chores are the No. 1 trigger of domestic arguments.

That doesn’t surprise author Meers. “Among people over 40,” she says, “two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women. And studies show that 80% of the fights are about housework.”

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