Racial-Ethnic Differences in U.S. Married Women’s and Men’s Housework


Married women continue to spend more time doing housework than men and economic resources influence women’s housework more strongly than men’s. To explain this, gender theorists point to how gender figures into identities, family interactions, and societal norms and opportunity structures. The extent of this configuration varies culturally and, in the United States, by race-ethnicity because of how race-ethnicity conditions access to resources and influences gender relations within marriages. Housework levels and gender differences may be lower in Black married couples compared to other couples because of Black women’s higher historical levels of employment and consequently long-standing need to balance work and family responsibilities. Race-ethnicity also likely conditions the symbolic meaning and thus association of economic resources and housework. We use pooled time diary data from the 2003 to 2007 American Time Use Study from 26,795 married women and men to investigate how and why race-ethnicity influences housework. Our results indicate Hispanic and Asian women do more cooking and cleaning compared with White and Black women and the inverse relationship between women’s earnings and housework is steeper for Hispanic women compared with other women. We find no evidence that married Black men devote more time to housework than White men, either core or occasional, unlike earlier studies.

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Correspondence to Liana C. Sayer.

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Sayer, L.C., Fine, L. Racial-Ethnic Differences in U.S. Married Women’s and Men’s Housework. Soc Indic Res 101, 259–265 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-010-9645-0

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  • Gender
  • Housework
  • Race-ethnicity