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


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.

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Fig. 1


  1. In keeping with other analyses in this area long-term sick/disabled and adults in full-time education were excluded.

  2. Defined as routine housework (cooking, cleaning, clothes-care).

  3. Note that none of the households of this range and ages of members included elderly dependents.

  4. Alternatively, we could model a long and untidy regression equation, saturated with interaction terms. This approach rapidly leads to mushrooming and unwieldy numbers of hard-to-interpret coefficients. Such a model is complicated to read, requiring the summing of constants, direct and interactive effects.

  5. This version of the data constitutes part of the Multi-national Time Use Study held at the Centre for Time Use Research, University of Oxford, and is downloadable from


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Correspondence to Oriel Sullivan.



See Table 4.

Table 4 Summary statistics for individual level regression analyses: UK Time Use Survey 2000/1

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Gershuny, J., Sullivan, O. Household structure and housework: assessing the contributions of all household members, with a focus on children and youths. Rev Econ Household 12, 7–27 (2014).

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