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Negotiating Domestic Labor: Women's Earnings and Housework Time in Australia


  • Janeen Baxter
  • Belinda Hewitt


Recent research in the United States has found that wives' absolute earnings level is more important than their earnings relative to their spouses in determining time spent on housework. Utilizing data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, this article examines whether women's housework time in Australia is associated with relative or absolute earnings and extends previous work by examining possible mechanisms linking women's earnings with their time on housework, outsourcing through the use of paid domestic help, and unmeasured heterogeneity among women. The research finds that women's housework time is more strongly affected by women's relative earnings than by their absolute earnings, and neither outsourcing nor unobserved heterogeneity can explain the relationship between women's earnings and their housework time in Australia. These results indicate that Australia has a strong male-breadwinner institutional framework that continues to hinder gender equality in paid and unpaid work.

Suggested Citation

  • Janeen Baxter & Belinda Hewitt, 2013. "Negotiating Domestic Labor: Women's Earnings and Housework Time in Australia," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 29-53, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:19:y:2013:i:1:p:29-53 DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2012.744138

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Nguyen, Binh T. & Albrecht, James W. & Vroman, Susan B. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 2007. "A quantile regression decomposition of urban-rural inequality in Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 466-490, July.
    5. Jayachandran N. Variyam & David S. Kraybill, 1998. "Fringe Benefits Provision by Rural Small Businesses," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 360-368.
    6. Jowett, M. & Contoyannis, P. & Vinh, N. D., 2003. "The impact of public voluntary health insurance on private health expenditures in Vietnam," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 333-342, January.
    7. Rand, John & Tarp, Finn & Cuong, Tran Tien & Tam, Nguyen Thanh, 2008. "SME Fringe Benefits Provision," MPRA Paper 29469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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    1. repec:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0667-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Foster, Gigi & Stratton, Leslie S., 2017. "Do Significant Labor Market Events Change Who Does the Chores? Paid Work, Housework and Power in Mixed-Gender Australian Households," IZA Discussion Papers 10831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. 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.
    4. repec:zbw:rwirep:0472 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Vivien Procher & Nolan Ritter & Colin Vance, 2014. "Making Dough or Baking Dough? Spousal Housework Responsibilities in Germany, 1992-2011," Ruhr Economic Papers 0472, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

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