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Different but Equal: Total Work, Gender and Social Norms in EU and US Time Use

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

    (Center for Women's and Gender Studies)

  • Michael C Burda

    (Institut für Wirtschaftstheorie (Humboldt Universität Berlin))

  • Philippe Weil

    (OFCE)

Using time-diary data from 27 countries, we demonstrate a negative relationship between real GDP per capita and the female-male difference in total work time—the sum of work for pay and work at home. We also show that in rich non-Catholic countries on four continents men and women do the same amount of total work on average. Our survey results demonstrate that labor economists, macroeconomists, sociologists and the general public consistently believe that women perform more total work. The facts do not arise from gender differences in the price of time nor from differences in intra-family bargaining: Gender equality is not associated with marital status, and most of the variance in gender total work differences arises from within-couple differences. A theory of social norms could account for within-education group and within-region gender differences being smaller than inter-group differences. It is consistent with cross-national evidence from the World Values Surveys and various sets of microeconomic data.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Publication status: Published in Working Hours and Job Sharing in the EU and USA : Are Europeans Lazy? Or Americans Crazy?, pp.11-91
Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/8642
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  1. Gronau, Reuben, 1980. "Home Production-A Forgotten Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 408-16, August.
  2. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1989. "Sleep and the Allocation of Time," NBER Working Papers 2988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Myrna Wooders & Edward Cartwright & Reinhard Selten, 2005. "Behavioral Conformity in Games with Many Players," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0513, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  5. Doepke, Matthias & Tertilt, Michèle, 2008. "Women's Liberation: What's in It for Men?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6771, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
  9. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "Timing, togetherness and time windfalls," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(4), pages 601-623.
  10. Raquel Fernandez, 2007. "Women, Work, and Culture," NBER Working Papers 12888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kooreman, P. & Kapteyn, A.J., 1984. "A disaggregated analysis of the allocation of time within the household," Research Memorandum FEW 153, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  12. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
  13. Edward Cartwright, 2005. "On the Emergence of Social Conformity," Studies in Economics 0501, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  14. Gershuny, Jonathan, 2000. "Changing Times: Work and Leisure in Postindustrial Society," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287872, December.
  15. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006.
  16. Yoram Weiss, 2009. "Work and Leisure: A History of Ideas," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-20, 01.
  17. Fernández, Raquel, 2007. "Women, Work and Culture," CEPR Discussion Papers 6153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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