Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 1–28 | Cite as

Does housework matter anymore? The shifting impact of housework on economic inequality

  • Cathleen D. ZickEmail author
  • W. Keith Bryant
  • Sivithee Srisukhumbowornchai


In recent years, American women’s housework time has declined while American men’s housework time has risen. We examine how these changes have affected economic inequality in the United States. Using time-diary data from the Time Use in Economic and Social Accounts, 1975–1976 (N = 1,484) and the American Time Use Survey, 2003 (N = 5,534), we value adults’ housework using two alternative methodologies and assess its influence on households’ real access to goods and services in both years. Results suggest that housework reduces economic inequality in both years. But, between 1975–1976 and 2002–2003, overall economic inequality rose largely because of the growing wage inequality and also, in part, because of growth in housework inequality. Socio-demographic change partially inhibited the overall growth in economic inequality.


Economic inequality Housework Time use 

JEL Classifications

D13 D63 



We wish to thank Philip N. Cohen for sharing his SAS code used to compute Gini coefficients.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cathleen D. Zick
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • W. Keith Bryant
    • 3
  • Sivithee Srisukhumbowornchai
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Family and Consumer StudiesUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Public and International Affairs at the University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Policy Analysis and ManagementCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Family and Preventive MedicineUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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