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The Role of Preferences and Opportunity Costs in Determining the Time Allocated to Housework

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  • Stratton, Leslie S.

    () (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Abstract

The time devoted to housework in couple households is substantial. Research on intrahousehold time allocations has generally assumed that housework is a necessary evil and that the partner with the lower opportunity cost of time in the market will devote more time to home production. In reality, households/individuals are likely motivated to maximize happiness, and preferences regarding even mundane household chores differ considerably. We use information on preferences, opportunity costs, and time use from the 2000-2001 United Kingdom Time Use Survey to examine the time partners spend doing laundry, ironing, cleaning, and food shopping. While compared with other household chores such as gardening and do-it-yourself repairs, the selected activities are generally less enjoyable, preferences do vary across the population and are correlated with reported time use. Joint multivariate analysis of his and her time on weekend and weekday days as well as maid service reveals that her opportunity cost of time matters substantially more than his, but that his preferences play a greater role than hers.

Suggested Citation

  • Stratton, Leslie S., 2012. "The Role of Preferences and Opportunity Costs in Determining the Time Allocated to Housework," IZA Discussion Papers 6436, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6436
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2007. "Time to Eat: Household Production under Increasing Income Inequality," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(4), pages 852-863.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2007. "AJAE Appendix: Time to Eat: Household Production Under Increasing Income Inequality," American Journal of Agricultural Economics Appendices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(4), November.
    3. Marcel Kerkhofs & Peter Kooreman, 2003. "Identification and estimation of a class of household production models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 337-369.
    4. Mette Gortz, 2011. "Home production – Enjoying the process or the product?," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 8(1), pages 85-109, November.
    5. Richard Blundell & Pierre-André Chiappori & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Collective Labor Supply with Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1277-1306, December.
    6. 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 120-125, May.
    7. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2005. "Consumption versus Expenditure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 919-948, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:zbw:rwirep:0472 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Simon Chang & Rachel Connelly & Ping Ma, 2016. "What Will You Do If I Say ‘I Do’?: The Effect of the Sex Ratio on Time Use within Taiwanese Married Couples," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), pages 471-500.
    3. Procher, Vivien & Ritter, Nolan & Vance, Colin, 2014. "Making Dough or Baking Dough? Spousal Housework Responsibilities in Germany, 1992-2011," Ruhr Economic Papers 472, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. Xu, Yan, 2017. "Essays on Preference Formation and Home Production," Other publications TiSEM b028fd7e-53ba-4ff6-97eb-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Thorsten Konietzko, 2015. "Self-Employed Individuals, Time Use, and Earnings," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 64-83, March.
    6. 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.
    7. Tien Manh Vu, 2015. "Home appliances and gender gap of time spent on unpaid housework: evidence using household data from Vietnam," OSIPP Discussion Paper 15E002, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University.
    8. Mayu Kobayashi & Miki Kobayashi & Tsunao Okumura & Emiko Usui, 2016. "Sharing housework between husbands and wives: how to improve marital satisfaction for working wives in Japan," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-15, December.
    9. Auspurg, Katrin & Iacovou, Maria & Nicoletti, Cheti, 2014. "Housework Share between Partners: Experimental Evidence on Gender Identity," IZA Discussion Papers 8569, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Leslie S. Stratton, 2015. "The determinants of housework time," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 133-133, March.
    11. Melanie Schröder & Norma Burow, 2016. "Couple's Labor Supply, Taxes, and the Division of Housework in a Gender-Neutral Lab," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1593, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    12. 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).
    13. Catherine Sofer & Claire Thibout, 2016. "Women’s Investment in Career and Household Division of Labor," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n38, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    14. Anda Leon, Maria Daniela, 2013. "Household response to higher costs of domestic services in Ecuador," Master's Theses 146714, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    housework; time allocation; preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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