IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Does housework lower wages and why? Evidence for Britain

  • Bryan, Mark L.
  • Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena

Women working full-time in the UK earn on average about 18% per hour less than men (EOC, 2005). Traditional labour economics has focussed on gender differences in human capital to explain the gender wage gap. Although differences in male and female human capital are recognized to derive from different household responsibilities over the life cycle, there is also a lesser-studied and more direct effect of household activities on wages. In a broad economic sense, household activities require effort, which decreases labour market productivity and thus wages. This paper first documents the relationship between housework and wages in Britain and applies a variety of econometric techniques to pin down the effect of housework on wages. It further explores what dimensions of housework are at the root of the relationship between housework and wages. After controlling for unobserved heterogeneity, we find a negative effect of housework on wages for married female workers, but not for single workers or married male workers. We argue that the factors behind the relationship between housework and wages are the type and timing of housework activities as much as the actual time devoted to housework.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2008-03.

in new window

Date of creation: 29 Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2008-03
Contact details of provider: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Phone: 44-1206-872957
Fax: 44-1206-873151
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-38 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S76-S108, Part II, .
  3. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz & Cristina Fernandez, 2006. "Social Norms and Household Time Allocation," Economics Series Working Papers 291, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Ribar, David C., 2004. "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage? A Review of Quantitative Methodologies," IZA Discussion Papers 998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Michal Myck & Gillian Paull, 2001. "The role of employment experience in explaining the gender wage gap," IFS Working Papers W01/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  8. Stephen P. Jenkins & Lars Osberg, 2003. "Nobody to Play with?: The Implications of Leisure Coordination," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 368, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. 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.
  10. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2002. "Housework and Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(1), pages 217-229.
  11. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2000. "Togetherness: Spouses' Synchronous Leisure, and the Impact of Children," NBER Working Papers 7455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2000. "Household specialization and the male marriage wage premium," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 78-94, October.
  13. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 1997. "Housework, Fixed Effects, and Wages of Married Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 285-307.
  14. repec:ese:iserwp:2007-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-39 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2008-03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Paul Groves)

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Paul Groves to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.