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Do Significant Labour Market Events Change Who Does the Laundry? Work, chore allocation, and power in Australian households

Author

Listed:
  • Gigi Foster

    () (School of Economics, UNSW Business School, UNSW)

  • Leslie Stratton

    () (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA)

Abstract

In this paper, we examine how men and women in mixed-gender unions change their allocation of time to housework in response to promotions and terminations in the labour market. Operating much like raises, such events have the potential to alter power dynamics within the household, as well as labour force commitments. Using Australian panel data on married and cohabiting couples, we first show evidence that promotions and terminations are plausibly exogenous to housework time allocations, then estimate gender and couple-specific fixed effects models of housework time as a function of both own and partner’s labour market events. Of the four types of labour market events we examine – male and female promotion, and male and female termination – female promotion is the strongest predictor of housework time allocation adjustments. These adjustments are in part due to concurrent changes in paid work time, but gender power relations also appear to play a role. Further results indicate that although large gender gaps in housework time exist regardless of labour market activity, households holding more liberal gender role attitudes, and those that are less time-constrained, are those most likely to adjust their housework time allocations after female promotion events. Power dynamics cannot, however, explain all the results. Supporting the sociological theory that partners may ‘do gender’ ( i.e., try to compensate behaviourally for phenomena that run contrary to gender stereotypes), we find that in households with more traditional gender role attitudes that experience a male termination event, his housework time falls while hers rises.

Suggested Citation

  • Gigi Foster & Leslie Stratton, 2017. "Do Significant Labour Market Events Change Who Does the Laundry? Work, chore allocation, and power in Australian households," Discussion Papers 2017-06, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  • Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2017-06
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    File URL: http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/RePEc/papers/2017-06.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael Burda & Daniel Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2013. "Total work and gender: facts and possible explanations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 239-261, January.
    2. Ramey, Valerie A., 2009. "Time Spent in Home Production in the Twentieth-Century United States: New Estimates from Old Data," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-47, March.
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    4. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas I. Mueller, 2012. "The Lot Of The Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 765-794, August.
    5. Elena G. F. Stancanelli & Leslie S. Stratton, 2014. "Maids, Appliances and Couples' Housework: The Demand for Inputs to Domestic Production," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(323), pages 445-467, July.
    6. Sanjiv Gupta & Michael Ash, 2008. "Whose money, whose time? A nonparametric approach to modeling time spent on housework in the United States," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 93-120.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intra-household allocation; Time use; Gender; Housework;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • D79 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Other

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