Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 49–65 | Cite as

Who Helps with Homework? Parenting Inequality and Relationship Quality Among Employed Mothers and Fathers

  • Scott Schieman
  • Leah Ruppanner
  • Melissa A. Milkie
Original Paper


This study investigated the relationship between parenting inequalities and feelings of relationship quality, and whether those patterns differed for women and men. Using data from the nationally representative 2011 Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Survey (N = 1427), we documented the relevance of perceived unfairness of the division of parenting and the ways that employment status and work hour preferences (“mismatch”) modify those relationships. We found that mothers in dual-earner households experience greater parenting inequalities than do similarly-situated fathers, net of housework inequalities. The negative association between parenting inequality and relationship quality was stronger among mothers—but that was due to perceived unfairness in the division of parenting tasks. We also observed that the detrimental effect of parenting inequality was stronger for mothers who worked part-time—but that was because of work hours mismatch: they tended to prefer to work longer hours. Our results contribute to the gendered nature of the division of parenting labor and its intersection with work hours and preferences.


Parenting responsibilities Household labor Marital quality Marital satisfaction Perceived unfairness Hours mismatch 



This study was funded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (Funding Reference Number: MOP-102730) and the Australian Research Council DECRA (project number DE150100228).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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