LONDON: Most men in Europe want to spend fewer hours at work and more time with their families even though it would cut their income, a major study on employment has found.
The study also overturns the common belief that higher-earning men like to work longer to build their careers. The study found that men who earn the majority of their household's income were most likely to want to work less.
Sociologists Dr Shireen Kanji, of the University of Leicester, and Dr Robin Samuel, of the University of Bern, also found that for men breadwinners the attraction of spending more time with their partner is as strong a pull as children's company.
The study analysed survey data on the working lives of more than 4,000 men in 12 European countries, including the UK.
They found that around 58 per cent of men breadwinners - those who earned more than their partners - were more likely to want to work less and spend more time at home, and only 15 per cent wanted to work longer.
Male breadwinners with a partner and no children were as keen to work less and spend more time at home as were men with both a partner and children.
Among men who earned the same or less than their partners or were single, most also wanted to work fewer hours, though the proportion was lower than for male breadwinners. They were
also less likely to want to work fewer hours than male breadwinners.
Being too tired after work to take part in family life was associated with an increased likelihood of feeling overworked.
"We show that male breadwinners are at a higher risk of overwork and this is related to the job interfering with their family life, a specific form of work-life conflict," researchers said in an article in the journal Sociology.
"The implication is that male breadwinners feel constrained from participating as fully as they desire in family life, even if they do not have children.
"For male breadwinners, being in a partnership is more salient to overwork than having children. Perhaps it is the inability to spend time with a partner that stimulates the feeling of overwork," the researchers said.
It had been thought by some that higher earning men might be content to work longer hours because high status jobs pay well. But the research suggests that because they can afford to work less and take a pay cut, they are more willing to do so than lower-earning men.