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Homemaking and women's well-being in Europe. Effect of divorce risk, selection and dominating gender-role attitudes

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  • MIKUCKA Malgorzata

Abstract

Whereas it is known that employment affects individual well-being, the literature on the effect of homemaking is so far inconclusive. The paper investigates the effect of being a housewife on well-being of women, using European Values Study data for 36 European countries (year 2008) and multilevel regression methodology. Results show that the effect of homemaking on well-being is overall positive and it varies across countries. Three possible explanations of this variation are examined. First hypothesis concerns traditional gender-role attitudes in a country. Results confirm that in more traditional countries homemakers have higher wellbeing, but only in western Europe. Effect of individual norms is strong: housewives with traditional gender-role attitudes declare higher well-being. Second hypothesis refers to the economic risk of specialization to homemaking, and states that higher divorce risk decreases well-being of housewives. Contrary to expectations, higher divorce risk in a country is accompanied by higher well-being of housewives. I interpret this as a sign of equality concerns incorporated into legal divorce procedures. Third hypothesis concerns positive and negative selection to homemaking. Results show that the relationship between prevalence of homemaking and the well-being of housewives is curvilinear. Highest well-being gains from homemaking occur in countries with lowest and highest prevalence of homemaking.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CEPS/INSTEAD in its series CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series with number 2011-09.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-09

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Keywords: well-being; homemaking; housewife; women's employment;

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  1. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
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