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Does Housework Lower Wages and Why? Evidence for Britain

  • Almudena Sevilla-Sanz
  • Mark L. Bryan

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. This differential effect across marital status suggests 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.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper331.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 331.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:331
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Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fernandez, Cristina & Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena, 2006. "Social norms and household time allocation," IESE Research Papers D/648, IESE Business School.
  4. 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.
  5. repec:ese:iserwp:2003-19 is not listed on IDEAS
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  7. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polachek, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 76-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Michal Myck & Gillian Paull, 2004. "The role of employment experience in explaining the gender wage gap," IFS Working Papers W04/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-39 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2000. "Togetherness: Spouses' Synchronous Leisure, and the Impact of Children," NBER Working Papers 7455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2002. "Housework and Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(1), pages 217-229.
  14. 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.
  15. 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).
  16. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polacheck, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 397-431 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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