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Housewives in a dual-earner society. Who is a housewife in contemporary Norway?

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Abstract

The number of housewives has declined significantly in most Western countries, but there is now a renewed interest in the homemaker role in the media and public discourse. Utilising representative survey data from 2007 we examine the prevalence and characteristics of the housewife role in present Norway, a social-democratic country with high gender-equality ambitions. Irrespective of the definition used, being a housewife is clearly a minority practice in Norway. About one out of ten partnered women of prime working age either look upon themselves as housewives or work for pay less than 20 hours per week. Housewives are overrepresented among the less educated, those with health restrictions, women with many children and young children, non-Western immigrants and those with a partner with fairly high income. The partners' aggregate income is lower in housewife couples than in other couples, though. Housewives are usually in charge of most domestic chores and report high levels of satisfaction with their division of labour and domestic economy. The analysis does not support the popular notion that today's housewife is primarily a highly educated woman who puts her career on halt, or a rich man's wife who spends her time on leisure activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Ragni Hege Kitterød & Marit Rønsen, 2011. "Housewives in a dual-earner society. Who is a housewife in contemporary Norway?," Discussion Papers 659, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:659
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    File URL: http://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp659.pdf
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    1. René Böheim & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "Actual and Preferred Working Hours," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 149-166, March.
    2. Ragni Hege Kitterød & Trude Lappegård, 2010. "A typology of work-family arrangements among dual-earner couples in Norway," Discussion Papers 636, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    3. Merz, Joachim, 2002. "Time and Economic Well-Being--A Panel Analysis of Desired versus Actual Working Hours," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 317-346, September.
    4. Ines Hardoy & Pål Schøne, 2008. "The family gap and family friendly policies: the case of Norway," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(22), pages 2857-2871.
    5. Heather Boushey, 2008. "“Opting out?” The effect of children on women's employment in the United States," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 1-36.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Housewife; gender; equality; labour market; unpaid work.;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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