Gender imbalance in housework allocation: a question of time?
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.
KeywordsHousehold labor Time allocation Gender Nonworking time
JEL ClassificationC21 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.
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