Time, Money, or Gender? Predictors of the Division of Household Labour Across Life Stages

Abstract

Drawing on a life course perspective and data gathered during three developmental periods—the transition to adulthood (age 25; n = 168), young adulthood (age 32; n = 337), and midlife (age 43; n = 309), we explored patterns of division of household labour among Canadian men and women. We also investigated associations among housework responsibility and variables representing time availability (i.e., work hours), relative resource (i.e., earning a greater share of income in a relationship), and gender constructionist perspectives (i.e., marital status and raising children) at three life course stages. Results indicated women performed more housework than men at all ages. Regression analyses revealed housework responsibility was most reliably predicted by relative income and gender at age 25; work hours and raising children at age 32; and work hours, relative income, and gender at age 43. Gender moderated the influence of raising children at age 32. Overall, the relative resource perspective was supported during the transition to adulthood and in midlife, the time availability perspective was supported in young adulthood and in midlife, and certain elements of the gender constructionist perspective were supported at all life stages. The present study contributes to the division of household labour literature by disentangling the predictive power of time, resource, and gender perspectives on housework at distinct life stages.

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Acknowledgements

The present work was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Alberta Advanced Education, and the University of Alberta to Harvey Krahn and colleagues. Data were collected by the Population Research Laboratory, University of Alberta.

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Correspondence to Rebecca M. Horne.

Ethics declarations

We have complied with all ethical standards of human subjects research in our manuscript. This study received ethics approval prior to each wave of data collection; the most recent ethics approval for the 2010 survey was granted by the University of Alberta Arts, Science and Law Research Ethics Board (application title: Transitions to Adulthood: 25 Year Follow-up of the Class of 1985; protocol number: Pro00015384).

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We have no conflict of interest to report.

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Horne, R.M., Johnson, M.D., Galambos, N.L. et al. Time, Money, or Gender? Predictors of the Division of Household Labour Across Life Stages. Sex Roles 78, 731–743 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0832-1

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Keywords

  • Couple relationships
  • Division of household labour
  • Life course theory
  • Employment
  • Income
  • Gender