Explaining the Decline in Married Women's Housework: 1965-2010

Patrick Ishizuka, Princeton University

The average amount of time spent performing housework in the United States has declined dramatically since the 1960s, driven largely by a reduction in women’s housework without a commensurate increase in that of men. At the same time, multiple indicators of married women’s labor market participation rose substantially, including proportion working, hours worked, relative earnings, and absolute earnings. Each of these measures implies distinct theoretical mechanisms linking wives’ labor market participation and housework hours. Using nationally representative repeated cross-sectional time diary data from 1965-2010, and longitudinal data containing housework reports from 1976-2007, I evaluate evidence for the time availability, relative resources, gender display, and autonomy perspectives in explaining the decline in married women’s housework. In addition, I find that more recent cohorts of married women perform significantly less housework than older cohorts after accounting for various indicators of both spouses’ labor market participation, educational attainment, and household composition.

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Presented in Poster Session 5