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

Gigi Foster and Leslie Stratton

No 2017-06, Discussion Papers from School of Economics, The University of New South Wales

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.

Keywords: Intra-household allocation; Time use; Gender; Housework (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J16 J22 D79 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 43 pages
Date: 2017-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen and nep-hme
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