Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 483–519 | Cite as

Do significant labor market events change who does the chores? Paid work, housework, and power in mixed-gender Australian households

  • Gigi Foster
  • Leslie S. Stratton
Original Paper


We examine how men and women in mixed-gender unions change the time they allocate to housework in response to labor market promotions and terminations. Operating much like raises, such events have the potential to alter intra-household power dynamics. Using Australian panel data, we estimate couple-specific fixed effects models and find that female promotion has the strongest association with housework time allocation adjustments. These adjustments are in part attributable to concurrent changes in paid work time, but gender power relations also appear to play a role. Further results indicate that households holding more liberal gender role attitudes are more likely to adjust their housework time allocations after female promotion events. Power dynamics cannot, however, explain all the results. Supporting the sociological theory that partners may “do gender,” we find that in households with more traditional gender role attitudes, his housework time falls while hers rises when he is terminated.


Intra-household allocation Time use Gender Housework 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions.

This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute. We thank Deborah Cobb-Clark, Joyce Jacobsen, Charlene Kalenkoski, Terra McKinnish, Paco Perales Perez, and seminar participants at Monash University and at the ANU-hosted Labour Econometrics Workshop in 2016 for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. We are also greatly indebted to James Stratton for outstanding research assistance and to the anonymous referees of this journal for their suggestions. All errors remain ours.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsVirginia Commonwealth University and IZA, and LCCRichmondUSA

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