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Social norms and household time allocation


  • Fernandez, Cristina
  • Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena


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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  • Fernandez, Cristina & Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena, 2006. "Social norms and household time allocation," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-38, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2006-38

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    Cited by:

    1. James Feyrer & Bruce Sacerdote & Ariel Dora Stern, 2008. "Will the Stork Return to Europe and Japan? Understanding Fertility within Developed Nations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    2. Magali Recoules, 2011. "How can gender discrimination explain fertility behaviors and family-friendly policies?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00675601, HAL.
    3. Boll, Christina & Leppin, Julian Sebastian & Reich, Nora, 2011. "Einfluss der Elternzeit von Vätern auf die familiale Arbeitsteilung im internationalen Vergleich," HWWI Policy Papers 59, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    4. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz & Mark L. Bryan, 2007. "Does Housework Lower Wages and Why? Evidence for Britain," Economics Series Working Papers 331, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. María Suárez, 2013. "Working mothers’ decisions on childcare: the case of Spain," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 545-561, December.
    6. Bernarda Zamora, 2011. "Does female participation affect the sharing rule?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(1), pages 47-83, January.
    7. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2007. "The American Family and Family Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 3-26, Spring.
    8. Magali Recoules, 2011. "How can gender discrimination explain fertility behaviors and family-friendly policies?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 505-521, December.
    9. Maria Gutiérrez-Domènech, 2010. "Parental employment and time with children in Spain," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 371-391, September.
    10. Begoña Álvarez & Daniel Miles, 2009. "Building gender roles: Do children learn from their parents?," Working Papers 0906, Universidade de Vigo, Departamento de Economía Aplicada.
    11. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & de la Rica, Sara, 2009. "The Timing of Work and Work-Family Conflicts in Spain: Who Has a Split Work Schedule and Why?," IZA Discussion Papers 4542, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Cristina Borra, 2010. "Childcare cost and Spanish mother’s labour force participation," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 194(3), pages 9-40, October.
    13. Jorge González Chapela, 2015. "Split or straight? Evidence of the effects of work schedules on workers’ well-being, time use, and productivity," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 153-177, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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