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Does housework lower wages and why? Evidence for Britain

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  • Bryan, Mark L.
  • Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena

Abstract

Women working full-time in the UK earn on average about 18% per hour less than men (EOC, 2005). Traditional labour economics has focussed on gender differences in human capital to explain the gender wage gap. Although differences in male and female human capital are recognized to derive from different household responsibilities over the life cycle, there is also a lesser-studied and more direct effect of household activities on wages. In a broad economic sense, household activities require effort, which decreases labour market productivity and thus wages. This paper first documents the relationship between housework and wages in Britain and applies a variety of econometric techniques to pin down the effect of housework on wages. It further explores what dimensions of housework are at the root of the relationship between housework and wages. After controlling for unobserved heterogeneity, we find a negative effect of housework on wages for married female workers, but not for single workers or married male workers. We argue that the factors behind the relationship between housework and wages are the type and timing of housework activities as much as the actual time devoted to housework.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2008-03.

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Date of creation: 29 Jan 2008
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Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2008-03

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Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
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Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
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References

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  1. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2000. "Household specialization and the male marriage wage premium," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 78-94, October.
  2. repec:ese:iserwp:2003-19 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2002. "Housework and Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(1), pages 217-229.
  4. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-38 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 1997. "Housework, Fixed Effects, and Wages of Married Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 285-307.
  7. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polacheck, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 397-431 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:ese:iserwp:2007-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Michal Myck & Gillian Paull, 2004. "The role of employment experience in explaining the gender wage gap," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W04/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S76-S108, Part II, .
  11. Fernandez, Cristina & Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena, 2006. "Social norms and household time allocation," IESE Research Papers, IESE Business School D/648, IESE Business School.
  12. Jenkins, Stephen P. & Osberg, Lars, 2003. "Nobody to Play With? The Implications of Leisure Coordination," IZA Discussion Papers 850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-39 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Ribar, David C., 2004. "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage? A Review of Quantitative Methodologies," IZA Discussion Papers 998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Hersch, Joni & Stratton, Leslie S, 1994. "Housework, Wages, and the Division of Housework Time for Employed Spouses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 120-25, May.
  16. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  17. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2000. "Togetherness: Spouses' Synchronous Leisure, and the Impact of Children," NBER Working Papers 7455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Blog mentions

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  1. Housework and wages
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2007-06-26 15:27:09
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  1. repec:ese:iserwp:2007-31 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Joni Hersch, 2009. "Home production and wages: evidence from the American Time Use Survey," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 159-178, June.

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