Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1257–1287 | Cite as

Gender imbalance in housework allocation: a question of time?

  • Begoña ÁlvarezEmail author
  • Daniel Miles-Touya


Using the 2002–2003 and 2009–2010 Spanish Time Use Surveys, this paper analyzes whether increases in nonworking time help dual-earner couples to reduce gender imbalance in housework allocation. Our empirical strategy exploits the fact that interviewed partners complete the survey on the same randomly assigned day, which may be a working day or a nonworking day for each spouse. This survey design allows us to compare the housework allocation decisions of dual-earner couples that are similar in key observable characteristics but differ in their work schedules during the interview day. We find that own nonworking days are associated with increases in men’s and women’s own contribution to housework and with decreases in the time their spouses spend on such activities. Yet the resulting imbalance in housework allocation differs depending on whether it is the wife or the husband with a day off. Thus, a husband’s nonworking day leads to an (almost) equal distribution of housework, whereas a wife’s nonworking day leads the partners to approach full specialization—with the wife performing most of the household tasks.


Household labor Time allocation Gender Nonworking time 

JEL Classification

C21 D13 J16 J22 



Financial support from Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades and FEDER (RTI2018-099403-B-I00) and from ECOBAS is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Arpino, B., Esping-Andersen, G., & Pessin, L. (2015). How do changes in gender role attitudes towards female employment influence fertility? A macro-level analysis. European Sociological Review, 31(3), 370–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akerlof, G. A., & Kranton, R. E. (2000). Economics and identity. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 715–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alger, I., & Cox, D. (2013). The evolution of altruistic preferences: mothers versus fathers. Review of Economics of the Household, 11(3), 421–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Álvarez, B., & Miles, D. (2006). Husbands’ housework time: does wives’ paid employment make a difference. Investigaciones Económicas, 30(1), 5–33.Google Scholar
  5. Álvarez, B., & Miles-Touya, D. (2016). Time allocation and women’s life satisfaction: evidence from Spain. Social Indicators Research, 129(3), 1207–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Amato, P. R., Johnson, D. R., Booth, A., & Rogers, S. J. (2003). Continuity and change in marital quality between 1980 and 2000. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bertrand, M., Kamenica, E., & Pan, J. (2015). Gender identity and relative income within households. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(2), 571–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bettio, F., Corsi, M., D’Ippoliti, C., Lyberaki, A., Lodovici, M. S., & Verashchagina, A. (2012). The impact of the economic crisis on the situation of women and men and on gender equality policies. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  9. Bianchi, S. M., Milkie, M. A., Sayer, L. C., & Robinson, J. P. (2000). Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor. Social forces, 79(1), 191–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2011). The economics of cultural transmission and socialization. In Handbook of Social Economics (Vol. 1A, 339–416). Edited by Benhabib, J., Jackson, M.O. & Bisin, A. Amsterdam & San Diego: Elsevier, North-Holland.Google Scholar
  11. Bloemen, H. G., Pasqua, S., & Stancanelli, E. G. (2010). An empirical analysis of the time allocation of Italian couples: are they responsive? Review of Economics of the Household, 8(3), 345–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bowles, S. (1998). Endogenous preferences: the cultural consequences of markets and other economic institutions. Journal of Economic Literature, 36(1), 75–111.Google Scholar
  13. Bredtmann, J. (2014). The intra-household division of labor: an empirical analysis of spousal influences on individual time allocation. Labour, 28(1), 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Browning, M., Bourguignon, F., Chiappori, P. A., & Lechene, V. (1994). Income and outcomes: a structural model of intra-household allocation. Journal of Political Economy, 102(6), 1067–1096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Browning, M., & Chiappori, P. A. (1998). Efficient intra-household allocations: a general characterization and empirical tests. Econometrica, 66, 1241–1278.Google Scholar
  16. Bryan, M. L., & Sevilla-Sanz, A. (2011). Does housework lower wages? Evidence for Britain. Oxford Economic Papers, 63(1), 187–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bryan, M. L., & Sevilla, A. (2017). Flexible working in the UK and its impact on couples’ time coordination. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(4), 1415–1437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burda, M. C., & Hamermesh, D. S. (2010). Unemployment, market work and household production. Economics Letters, 107(2), 131–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Burda, M., Hamermesh, D. S., & Weil, P. (2013). Total work and gender: facts and possible explanations. Journal of Population Economics, 26(1), 239–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Bustelo, M. (2016). Three decades of state feminism and gender equality policies in multi-governed Spain. Sex Roles, 74(3-4), 107–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Campaña, J. C., Giménez-Nadal, J. I., & Molina, J. A. (2018). Gender norms and the gendered distribution of total work in Latin American households. Feminist Economics, 24(1), 35–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chiappori, P. A. (1988). Rational household labor supply. Econometrica, 56(1), 63–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chiappori, P. A. (1997). Introducing household production in collective models of labor supply. Journal of Political Economy, 105(1), 191–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chiappori, P. A., Fortin, B., & Lacroix, G. (2002). Marriage market, divorce legislation, and household labor supply. Journal of Political Economy, 110(1), 37–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Cochard, F., Couprie, H., & Hopfensitz, A. (2018). What if women earned more than their spouses? An experimental investigation of work-division in couples. Experimental Economics, 21(1), 50–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1208–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Couprie, H. (2007). Time allocation within the family: welfare implications of life in a couple. The Economic Journal, 117(516), 287–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dew, J., & Wilcox, W. B. (2011). If momma ain’t happy: explaining declines in marital satisfaction among new mothers. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fan, P. L., & Marini, M. M. (2000). Influences on gender-role attitudes during the transition to adulthood. Social Science Research, 29(2), 258–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fernández, R., Fogli, A., & Olivetti, C. (2004). Mothers and sons: preference formation and female labor force dynamics. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(4), 1249–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fortin, N. M. (2015). Gender role attitudes and women’s labor market participation: opting-out, aids, and the persistent appeal of housewifery. Annals of Economics and Statistics/Annales d'Économie et de Statistique, 117/118, 379–401.Google Scholar
  32. Foster, G., & Kalenkoski, C. M. (2013). Tobit or OLS? An empirical evaluation under different diary window lengths. Applied Economics, 45(20), 2994–3010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Foster, G., & Stratton, L. S. (2018). Do significant labor market events change who does the chores? Paid work, housework, and power in mixed-gender Australian households. Journal of Population Economics, 31(2), 483–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Frisco, M. L., & Williams, K. (2003). Perceived housework equity, marital happiness, and divorce in dual-earner households. Journal of Family Issues, 24(1), 51–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gay, V., Hicks, D. L., Santacreu-Vasut, E., & Shoham, A. (2018). Decomposing culture: an analysis of gender, language, and labor supply in the household. Review of Economics of the Household, 16(4), 879–909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. García-Mainar, I., Molina, J. A., & Montuenga, V. M. (2011). Gender differences in childcare: time allocation in five European countries. Feminist Economics, 17(1), 119–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Giménez-Nadal, J. I., & Sevilla, A. (2014). Total work time in Spain: evidence from time diary data. Applied Economics, 46(16), 1894–1909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gough, M., & Killewald, A. (2011). Unemployment in families: the case of housework. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73(5), 1085–1100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Goux, D., Maurin, E., & Petrongolo, B. (2014). Worktime regulations and spousal labor supply. American Economic Review, 104(1), 252–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hamermesh, D. S. (2000). Togetherness: spouses’ synchronous leisure, and the impact of children. Working Paper 7455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  41. Hamermesh, D. S. (2016). What’s to know about time use? Journal of Economic Surveys, 30(1), 198–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hersch, J. & Stratton, L. S. (1997). Housework, fixed effects, and wages of married workers. Journal of Human Resources, 32(2), 285–307.Google Scholar
  43. Hersch, J. & Stratton, L. S. (2002). Housework and wages. Journal of Human Resources, 37(1), 217–229.Google Scholar
  44. Hwang, J., Lee, C., & Lee, E. (2019). Gender norms and housework time allocation among dual-earner couples. Labour Economics, 57, 102–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: the day reconstruction method. Science, 306(5702), 1776–1780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kawaguchi, D., Lee, J., & Hamermesh, D. S. (2013). A gift of time. Labour Economics, 24, 205–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lee, J., Kawaguchi, D., & Hamermesh, D. S. (2012). Aggregate impacts of a gift of time. American Economic Review, 102(3), 612–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Maani, S. A., & Cruickshank, A. A. (2010). What is the effect of housework on the market wage, and can it explain the gender wage gap? Journal of Economic Surveys, 24(3), 402–427.Google Scholar
  49. Pailhé A., Solaz A. & Souletie A. (2019). How do men and women use extra time? Housework and childcare after the French 35-hour workweek regulation. Forthcoming in European Sociological Review.Google Scholar
  50. Presser, H. B. (1994). Employment schedules among dual-earner spouses and the division of household labor by gender. American Sociological Review, 59, 348–364.Google Scholar
  51. Qi, L., Li, H., & Liu, L. (2017). A note on Chinese couples’ time synchronization. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(4), 1249–1262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rapoport, B., Sofer, C., & Solaz, A. (2011). Household production in a collective model: some new results. Journal of Population Economics, 24(1), 23–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sevilla-Sanz, A., Giménez-Nadal, J. I., & Fernández, C. (2010). Gender roles and the division of unpaid work in Spanish households. Feminist Economics, 16(4), 137–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Solaz, A. (2005). Division of domestic work: is there adjustment between partners when one is unemployed? Review of Economics of the Household, 3(4), 387–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stancanelli, E. G., & Stratton, L. S. (2014). Maids, appliances and couples’ housework: the demand for inputs to domestic production. Economica, 81(323), 445–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stratton, L. S. (2012). The role of preferences and opportunity costs in determining the time allocated to housework. American Economic Review, 102(3), 606–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Van Klaveren, C., & Van den Brink, H. M. (2007). Intra-household work time synchronization. Social Indicators Research, 84(1), 39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Klaveren, C., Van Praag, B., & van den Brink, H. M. (2008). A public good version of the collective household model: an empirical approach with an application to British household data. Review of Economics of the Household, 6(2), 169–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vella, F. (1994). Gender roles and human capital investment: the relationship between traditional attitudes and female labour market performance. Economica, 61, 191–211.Google Scholar
  60. Vivas, E., Angulo, C., Hernández, S. & del Val, R. (2014). Otras facetas de la Encuesta de Empleo del Tiempo 2009–2010. Documento de Trabajo 1/2014, Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Madrid.Google Scholar
  61. Walter, J. G. (2018). The adequacy of measures of gender roles attitudes: a review of current measures in omnibus surveys. Quality & Quantity, 52(2), 829–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Economía AplicadaUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain

Personalised recommendations