Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 7–27 | Cite as

Household structure and housework: assessing the contributions of all household members, with a focus on children and youths

  • Jonathan Gershuny
  • Oriel SullivanEmail author


Most research into the division of household domestic labor focuses on couple households, treating other household members such as children/youths and other adults as independent variables affecting the domestic work of husbands and wives. We present an integrated analysis of variance/variance decomposition that summarizes the determinants of the housework contributions of, and the housework burden imposed by, all the individuals in four common household types, with a focus on the contributions of older children and youths. We demonstrate the importance of statistical interactions between the contributions of different household members (distinguished by partnership status, gender, and the ages and genders of children/youths), in particular for those households containing children/youths. We conclude that in order to analyze the contributions of all household members jointly, it is necessary to distinguish different household compositions for separate analysis.


Household housework Division of household labour Whole household analyses Children’s contributions to housework 

JEL Classifications

D13 J12 J16 Z13 


  1. Abroms, L. C., & Goldsheider, F. K. (2002). More work for mother: How spouses, cohabiting partners and relatives affect the hours mothers work. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 23, 147–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Álvarez, B., & Miles-Touya, D. (2012). Exploring the relationship between parents’ and children’s housework time in Spain. Review of Economics of the Household, 10, 299–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bianchi, S. M., Robinson, J. P., & Milkie, M. A. (2006). Changing rhythms of American family life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  4. Bittman, M., England, P., Folbre, N., Sayer, L., & Matheson, G. (2003). When does gender trump money? Bargaining and time in household work. American Journal of Sociology, 109, 186–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheal, D. J. (2003). Children’s home responsibilities: Factors predicting children’s household work. Social Behavior and Personality, 31, 789–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cherlin, A. J. (2010). Demographic trends in the United States: A review of research in the 2000s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 403–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eurostat. (2009). Harmonised European time use surveys. Eurostat Methodologies and Working Papers. Luxembourg: European Commission.Google Scholar
  8. Ferree, M. M. (2010). Filling the glass: Gender perspectives on families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 420–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gager, C. T., Sanchez, L. A., & Demaris, A. (2009). Whose time is it? The effect of employment and work/family stress on children’s housework. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 1459–1485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldscheider, F. K., & Waite, L. J. (1991). New families, no families. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gupta, S. (2007). Autonomy, dependence or display? The relationship between married women’s earnings and housework. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 399–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hofferth, Sandra L., & Sandberg, John F. (2001). How American children spend their time. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63, 295–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hook, J. (2010). Gender inequality in the Welfare State: Sex segregation in housework, 1965–2003. American Journal of Sociology, 115, 1480–1523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kan, M. Y. (2008). Does gender trump money? Housework hours of husbands and wives in Britain. Work, Employment & Society, 22, 45–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kan, M. Y., & Gershuny, J. (2006). Infusing time diary evidence into panel data: An exercise on calibrating time-use estimates for the BHPS. Working paper of the Institute for Social and Economic Research. Paper 2006-19. Colchester, UK: University of Essex.Google Scholar
  16. Killewald, A., & Gough, M. (2010). Money isn’t everything: Wives’ earnings and housework time. Social Sciences Research, 39, 987–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lachance-Grzela, M., & Bouchard, G. (2010). Why do women do the lion’s share of housework? A decade of research. Sex Roles, 63, 767–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lee, Y.-S., Schneider, B., & Waite, L. J. (2003). Children and housework: Some unanswered questions. Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, 9, 105–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sevilla-Sanz, A., Gimenez-Nadal, J. I., & Fernandez, C. (2010). Gender roles and the division of unpaid work in Spanish households. Feminist Economics, 16, 137–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sullivan, O. (1996). Time co-ordination, the domestic division of labor and affective relations. Sociology, 30, 79–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sullivan, O. (2011). An end to gender deviance neutralization through housework? A review and reassessment of the quantitative literature using insights from the qualitative literature. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 3, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Time Use Research, Department of SociologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations