Time, Money, and Gender Explain Division of Household Labor

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rebecca Horne, MSc, PHEc
MSc graduate in Family Sciences from the University of Alberta
Professional human ecologist
PhD student in Psychology at the University of Toronto
Research area in intimate relationships

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although several studies have argued that time, money, and gender are important factors that shape the division of household labour, we know little about how these factors impact housework at different stages of the life course. Specifically, are time, money, and gender-related variables equally important for explaining housework involvement at different life stages? In our study, we compared men’s and women’s housework contributions at different life stages and explored how work hours, income (relative to one’s partner), marital status, raising children, and gender impacted housework at these distinct stages.

We drew on data from the Edmonton Transitions Study, which has tracked the school-to-work and adolescence-to-adulthood transitions of nearly 1,000 Canadians for over three decades. We analyzed survey data from participants who had romantic partners during three developmental periods: the transition to adulthood (age 25; assessed in 1992), young adulthood (age 32; assessed in 1999), and midlife (age 43; assessed in 2010).

We found that regardless of age or life stage, women performed more housework than men. In addition, lower housework involvement was most reliably predicted by earning a greater share of income and being male at age 25; working longer hours and raising children (for men only) at age 32; and earning a greater share of income, working longer hours, and being male at age 43. Importantly, gender was the strongest predictor of housework responsibility earlier and later in life.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Time, money, and gender variables seem to be important for explaining the division of household labour, albeit to varying intensities depending on life stage. Nevertheless, the gendered nature of housework is apparent in how women consistently perform more housework than men. Overall, exploring housework patterns and predictors at several life stages paints a clearer picture of how men and women navigate the division of household labour at different developmental periods.

MedicalResearch.com: What are some practice implications from this study?

Response: Our findings can be used by policymakers and employers to develop or alter laws, policies, and work environments in ways that promote men’s involvement in unpaid labour. Our results also suggest it would be important for couples therapists and educators to encourage partners to reflect on their particular life stage and how employment, earnings, and/or children may factor into their household decision making.

Disclosures: The present work was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Alberta Advanced Education, and the University of Alberta to Harvey Krahn and colleagues. Data were collected by the Population Research Laboratory, University of Alberta.

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 Time, Money, or Gender? Predictors of the Division of Household Labour Across Life Stages.

Rebecca M. Horne, Matthew D. Johnson, Nancy L. Galambos, Harvey J. Krahn

26 September 2017 Sex Roles

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.







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