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Over the past couple months, I’ve been writing some posts looking at quantitative research on the gendered division of domestic labor, specifically the article Is Anyone Doing the Housework? Trends in the Gender Division of Household Labor by Suzanne M. Bianchi and colleagues.

I started by looking at the abstract, which summarized the major finding that women cut the amount of housework they do almost in half between the 1965 and 1995 and men almost doubled how much they do. Here’s the graph from the article:


Here’s a table breaking housework down into categories:


Here’s the second part of the table, which is for married men and women instead of all men and women:


Overall the pattern is similar.

For me, the most interesting part of the article is the statistical analysis testing three theories of housework. As the abstract noted, the results more strongly supported time-availability and relative-resources, but also supported the gender perspective some, too.

Overall results

Since I’m writing for a general audience, I’ll just summarize the findings, but if you’re used to reading results from an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, see Table 2 on p. 210 of the article.

“In 1995, married men were doing over eight more weekly hours of housework compared to their married counterparts in 1965.” (212)

“The results indicate that almost all of the five-hour-per-week increase in men’s housework time is related to their increase propensity to do housework; relatively little (14%) is due to shifts in men’s demographic characteristics.” (212)

“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 in the household. 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.” (212)



Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Consistent with a time availability perspective, employment status affects both men and women, with full-time and part-time employed men and women doing significantly less housework than those not employed.” (207-211)

“Children increase time spent in housework for both men and women. Housework estimates do not include time spent doing child care—thus, children increase hours doing housework, such as laundry, cleaning, and cooking. What the time availability perspective cannot completely explain, however, is that children increase housework more for women than men. This suggest that something is happening in households with children that goes beyond the rational allocation of domestic work hours to meet increased demand.” (211)

[The emphasis (bolding) in the above quotation is mine, as is the bolding in the other quotations in this post.]

“Children aged 0 to 4 and 5 to 11 significantly increase time in housework for both husbands ind wives. However, children under 12 increase increase wives’ hours in housework more than three times more than for husbands. The number of girls aged 12 to 18 has a significant effect on wives, increasing their housework over one and a half hours, but has no impact on husbands. Boys aged 12 to 18 increase wives’ housework by three hours per week and nearly one hour for husbands. Children of all ages increase the housework gender gap, with the grates increases in the gap for the younger-aged children. Children increase hours for both mothers and fathers but so so relatively more for mothers, so the gap widens, especially when preschoolers are present.” (215)



Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Compared with couples in which the husband has a college degree but the wife does not, couples in which the wife has more education than the husband have smaller gender gaps in housework. The greater the proportion of couple income the wife earns, the less housework she does, the more her husband does and the smaller the gender gap.” (215-217)

“Wives who are the same age as their husbands do fewer hours of housework (and have a smaller gender gap) than wives who are more than two years younger than their husbands.” (217)

Gender ideology

“Consistent with the gender perspective, being married significantly increases housework hours for women, but not for men, with marriage associated with a five-hour-per-week increase in housework for women.” (211)

Source: Amazon.com

“Wives with a more egalitarian gender ideology do less housework, reducing the gap, but their ideology does not affect husbands’ housework hours. Husbands’ egalitarian ideology does not cause them to increase their own hours, but wives married to husbands with a more egalitarian gender ideology do less housework than wives married to husbands with a more traditional gender ideology.” (217)

That last one makes me want to bang my head against the table.

For all of these findings, keep in mind that the article was published in 2000 and the most recent data point was 1995. The authors have a 2012 article reflecting on this article and its impact, that also looks at some more recent data.