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Intrahousehold Specialization in Housework in the United States and Denmark

  • Bonke, Jens

    ()

    (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

  • Deding, Mette

    ()

    (Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI))

  • Lausten, Mette

    ()

    (Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI))

  • Stratton, Leslie S.

    ()

    (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Objective: Focusing on housework activities, we construct a gender neutral composite index measure of intrahousehold specialization. We hypothesize that the degree of specialization is influenced by economic notions of efficiency, as well as by time constraints and egalitarian values. Methods: Employing time use data on US and Danish couples, we model specialization using a multivariate two-limit Tobit. Results: We analyze the comparability of reported time use and our specialization index using different types of data. We find evidence that Danish households specialize less than American households and postulate that this cross-national difference is a result of the more egalitarian family culture within Scandinavia. A finding that children are associated with significantly increased specialization in the US but not in Denmark is attributed to the subsidized childcare services provided by the Danish welfare system. Conclusion: Intrahousehold specialization in housework varies with economic circumstances, time constraints, and social values.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2777.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Social Science Quarterly, 2008, 89 (4), 1023-1043
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2777
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  1. Kan, Â Man Yee, 2006. "Measuring housework participation: the gap between 'stylised' questionnaire estimates and diary-based estimates," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-11, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  2. Ragni Kitterød, 2001. "Does the recording of parallel activities in Time Use Diaries affect the way people report their main activities?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 145-178, November.
  3. Katharine G. Abraham & Aaron Maitland & Suzanne M. Bianchi, 2006. "Non-response in the American Time Use Survey: Who Is Missing from the Data and How Much Does It Matter?," NBER Technical Working Papers 0328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jens Bonke, 2005. "Paid Work and Unpaid Work: Diary Information Versus Questionnaire Information," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 349-368, 02.
  5. 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.
  6. Maria Sagrario Floro & Marjorie Miles, 2003. "Time use, work and overlapping activities: evidence from Australia," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(6), pages 881-904, November.
  7. 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.
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