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Social norms and household time allocation

  • Fernandez, Cristina


    (IESE Business School)

  • Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena

    (University of Essex)

Economic theories of the household predict that increases in female relative human capital lead to decreases in female housework time. However, longitudinal and cross-sectional evidence seems to contradict this implication. Women's share of home time fails to decrease despite increases in women's relative earnings. The literature has proposed social norms on the household division of labor as an alternative explanation. We use the 2002-2003 Spanish Time Use Survey (STUS) to explore the presence of social norms associated with the household division of housework and childcare. First, we observe that wives who earn more than their husbands still do more than 50% of the housework and childcare. Second, we find that a woman's relative share of housework decreases as her relative earnings increase, but only up to the point where she earns the same as her husband. Finally, independently of the definition of childcare, the relative time devoted to childcare does not vary with spouses' relative earnings. All these findings suggest that social norms may be an important factor in the division of household time.

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Paper provided by IESE Business School in its series IESE Research Papers with number D/648.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 11 Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0648
Contact details of provider: Postal: IESE Business School, Av Pearson 21, 08034 Barcelona, SPAIN
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  1. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2000. "Household Specialization and the Male Marriage Wage Premium," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 78-94, October.
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  3. Begoña Alvarez & Daniel Miles, . "Gender Effect on Housework Allocation: Evidence from Spanish Two-Earner Couples," Studies on the Spanish Economy 114, FEDEA.
  4. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  5. Angel De la Fuente & Juan F. Jimeno, 2005. "The Private and Fiscal Returns to Schooling and the Effect of Public Policies on Private Incentives to Invest in Education: A General Framework and Some Results for the EU," CESifo Working Paper Series 1392, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
  7. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-67, June.
  8. Michael Bittman & Paula England & Nancy Folbre & George Matheson, 2001. "When Gender Trumps Money: Bargaining and Time in Household Work," JCPR Working Papers 221, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  9. Rasul, Imran, 2008. "Household bargaining over fertility: Theory and evidence from Malaysia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 215-241, June.
  10. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2001. "Efficiency in Marriage," NBER Working Papers 8642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
  12. Bonke, Jens & Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Smith, Nina, 2003. "Timing and Flexibility of Housework and Men and Women's Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 860, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:715-753 is not listed on IDEAS
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