Sex Roles

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 571-597

First online:

Benefits of Equitable Relationships: The Impact of Sense of Fairness, Household Division of Labor, and Decision Making Power on Perceived Social Support

  • Marieke Van WilligenAffiliated withEast Carolina University Email author 
  • , Patricia DrenteaAffiliated withThe University of Alabama at Birmingham

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We examine the impact of equity in intimate relationships on perceived social support among married and cohabiting individuals. We found performing an inequitable portion of the housework or feeling one's portion of the housework is unfair corresponds with lower perceived social support for both individuals in advantaged and disadvantaged positions of power. The highest level of social support results when partners contribute equally to household decisions. In contrast to earlier studies, women do not perceive inequitable household responsibilities as more fair than do men. We argue perceived social support is based in part on the structural conditions of marital arrangements. Five percent of the participants identified as Black, 89% as White, and 6% as members of other racial groups. The average participant had just over a high school education, with a median family income of $42,427.