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The Role of Preferences and Opportunity Costs in Determining the Time Allocated to Housework

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  • Stratton, Leslie S.

    ()
    (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Abstract

The time devoted to housework in couple households is substantial. Research on intrahousehold time allocations has generally assumed that housework is a necessary evil and that the partner with the lower opportunity cost of time in the market will devote more time to home production. In reality, households/individuals are likely motivated to maximize happiness, and preferences regarding even mundane household chores differ considerably. We use information on preferences, opportunity costs, and time use from the 2000-2001 United Kingdom Time Use Survey to examine the time partners spend doing laundry, ironing, cleaning, and food shopping. While compared with other household chores such as gardening and do-it-yourself repairs, the selected activities are generally less enjoyable, preferences do vary across the population and are correlated with reported time use. Joint multivariate analysis of his and her time on weekend and weekday days as well as maid service reveals that her opportunity cost of time matters substantially more than his, but that his preferences play a greater role than hers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6436.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2012, 102(3), 606-611
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6436

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Keywords: housework; time allocation; preferences;

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References

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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2007. "Time to Eat: Household Production under Increasing Income Inequality," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(4), pages 852-863.
  2. Hersch, Joni & Stratton, Leslie S, 1994. "Housework, Wages, and the Division of Housework Time for Employed Spouses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 120-25, May.
  3. Mette Gortz, 2011. "Home production – Enjoying the process or the product?," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 8(1), pages 85-109, November.
  4. Marcel Kerkhofs & Peter Kooreman, 2003. "Identification and estimation of a class of household production models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 337-369.
  5. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2005. "Consumption versus Expenditure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 919-948, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Vivien Procher & Nolan Ritter & Colin Vance, 2014. "Making dough or baking dough? Spousal housework responsibilities in Germany, 1992-2011," Schumpeter Discussion Papers SDP14004, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
  2. Anda Leon, Maria Daniela, 2013. "Household response to higher costs of domestic services in Ecuador," Master's Theses 146714, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.

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