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I’m continuing with my posts about Bianchi, Sayer, Milkie, and Robinson’s work on the division of domestic labor. Last time I explained how their opening paragraph set up the key tension their article is addressing.

I’ll keep sharing some great passages in the article. (Again, you can read the whole thing for free, here.)

Early on, they explain why they include all household types, not just married people:

Most research about who does housework in American homes explores the allocation of domestic chores within married couples (see Shelton 1992 and South and Spitze 1994 for exceptions). We begin by focusing on all individuals regardless of marital status. Research that examines the effect of demographic, socioeconomic, and ideological variables on men’s and women’s housework time for all household types helps untangle how men and women in marriage differ from men and women outside marriage (Shelton 1992). Moreover, only by examining trends in household work for all individuals can one determine whether changes are a function of shifts in the compositional characteristics of the population (such as the decline in marriage) or social and cultural transformations (p. 193)

Let’s skip past a bunch of theory, methods and results tables—which we’ll come back to—to see how this was important to their findings. If you read my post about the abstract, you got a brief preview of this.For men:

The results indicate that almost all of the five-hour-per-week increase in men’s housework time is related to their increased propensity to do housework; relatively little (14%) is due to shifts in men’s demographic characteristics. Over time, an increasing percentage of men (3% in 1965 compared with 14% in 1995) are not working for pay as men retire earlier from the work force. This shift in employment can account for virtually all the compositional component in the decomposition results for men (p. 212).

For women:

For women, compositional changes are a much more important explanation of the 12.5-hour-per-week decrease in household work, with about half of the decline associated with larger proportions of 1995 women who are employed and college educated and smaller proportions who are married and living with children. More specifically, if women in 1995 had the same characteristics as those in 1965—with the same low rates of labor force participation and higher rates of marriage and greater numbers of children—the decline in hours would be about 6 hours per week, not 12 (p. 212).

As in the previous posts, all the bolding is me, not the original article.