Changing Jobs and Changing Chores? The Longitudinal Association of Women’s and Men’s Occupational Gender-Atypicality and Couples’ Housework Performance

Abstract

Prior research linking occupational sex composition (the proportion of women in an occupation) to housework has yielded conflicting results and relies exclusively on cross-sectional data. The present article extends scholarship on the gendered division of household labor by using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) 1981–2013 to assess how changes in occupational sex composition alter heterosexual married couples’ housework performance over time. I find that either spouse’s gender-atypical employment (e.g., husband’s employment in a predominately female job) is associated with gender-atypical housework performance by both spouses (e.g., higher housework hours for the husband and fewer hours for the wife). The association of women’s occupational sex composition with housework is driven by changes in individual women’s occupations and both spouses’ housework over time. In contrast, the association of men’s occupational sex composition with housework is driven by differences between different couples, not by within-couple change over time. Thus, fundamentally different causal mechanisms link women’s and men’s occupational sex composition to couples’ housework performance, and only for women are longitudinal changes in occupational sex composition associated with changes in housework. These findings have important implications for understanding occupation and housework as domains of gender performance.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer for her comments and advice.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Aura McClintock.

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McClintock, E.A. Changing Jobs and Changing Chores? The Longitudinal Association of Women’s and Men’s Occupational Gender-Atypicality and Couples’ Housework Performance. Sex Roles 78, 165–181 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0794-3

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Keywords

  • Occupational sex composition
  • Housework
  • Division of labor
  • Gender equality
  • Marriage