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Deciding Who Works Where – An Analysis of the Distribution of Work within Native and Immigrant Families in Australia

  • Leilanie Basilio


The paper examines whether there is an asymmetry in the distribution of market work and domestic work within families in Australia, and to what extent differences in earnings capacities of spouses can account for the division of labor. Using a Blinder-Oaxaca Tobit-type decomposition, we find that the difference in earnings capacities of Australian couples could explain about 30 and 20 percent of the observed disparities in spousal time allocation in market and domestic work, respectively. Most of the work gaps, however, appear to be accounted for by the differences in labor supply behaviors of partners rather than by the differences in earnings capacities.We further observe that the differences in wages are more relevant for immigrant families originating from non-English speaking countries.Convergence of gender wages would produce the greatest reduction in spousal specialization for this particular group.Given that immigrant women from non-English speaking background have high levels of formal qualifications, our results could assert the significance of improving the returns to human capital attributes of these immigrant women in reducing the imbalance in spousal work distribution.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0125.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0125
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  1. Heather Antecol, 2001. "Why Is There Interethnic Variation in the Gender Wage Gap?: The Role of Cultural Factors," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 119-143.
  2. Chris van Klaveren & Bernard M.S. van Praag & Henriette Maassen van den Brink, 2006. "A Collective Household Model of Time Allocation - a Comparison of Native Dutch and Immigrant Households in the Netherlands," CESifo Working Paper Series 1753, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, September.
  4. Begoña Álvarez & Daniel Miles, 2003. "Gender effect on housework allocation: Evidence from Spanish two-earner couples," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(2), pages 227-242, 05.
  5. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
  6. Joan R. Rodgers, 2004. "Hourly Wages of full-time and part-time employees in Australia," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 7(2), pages 231-254, June.
  7. McDonald, James Ted & Worswick, Christopher, 1999. "The Earnings of Immigrant Men in Australia: Assimilation, Cohort Effects, and Macroeconomic Conditions," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 75(228), pages 49-62, March.
  8. Wayne Simpson, 1986. "Analysis of Part-Time Pay in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(4), pages 798-807, November.
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