Bargain or Autonomy? A Comparative Study of Housework in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

Jia Yu, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The relative resources perspective of domestic labor argues that wives’ housework time falls as their share of couple’s income rises. In contrast, the autonomy perspective views wife’s own earnings as a much better predictor of her housework time. However, the extent to which the two perspectives will be supported may depend on social contexts. Capitalizing on comparison of Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, I find that the ability of wife’s relative or absolute earnings in reducing housework time depends more on gender ideology than on macro-level economic development. In societies with less equal gender ideology, wives’ relative earnings are more influential, because the reduction in their housework time is largely led by bargaining on housework division with the husbands. While in societies with more equal gender ideology, instead of bargaining, wives could autonomously reduce their housework time by purchasing market substitutes as their own income increases.

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Presented in Poster Session 5