Do Significant Labour Market Events Change Who Does the Laundry? Work, Chore Allocation, and Power in Australian Households

43 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2017

See all articles by Gigi Foster

Gigi Foster

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics

Leslie S. Stratton

Virginia Commonwealth University - School of Business - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: January 31, 2017

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

JEL Classification: J16, J22, D79

Suggested Citation

Foster, Gigi and Stratton, Leslie S., Do Significant Labour Market Events Change Who Does the Laundry? Work, Chore Allocation, and Power in Australian Households (January 31, 2017). UNSW Business School Research Paper No. 2017-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2926739 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2926739

Gigi Foster (Contact Author)

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Leslie S. Stratton

Virginia Commonwealth University - School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 844000
Richmond, VA 23284-4000
United States
804-828-7141 (Phone)
804-828-1719 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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