Skip to main content

Cross-National Comparison on Family Satisfaction: Super-Specialization Versus Super-Equality

Abstract

Research has documented that women still assume the main burden of domestic tasks and childcare within the household, despite the recent changes towards a greater equality. This division of labor has clear implications in satisfaction with family life. However, little research has combined other domestic responsibilities, such as decision making and care of dependent relatives with housework to study satisfaction, from a comparative perspective. In this article, data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)-2012 are used to explore the effects of a proposed index on balance in the couple, for women and men separately, through different multilevel models. The results suggest that the empowerment that could be assumed from a leading role in decision making does not improve satisfaction and that super-equality is the option yielding the highest levels of satisfaction, regardless their hours of paid-work. Differences by countries persist after controlling for individual and contextual variables, with the Latin American countries being those with the most satisfied populations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. These levels are consistent with previous works (Kornrich and Eger 2016; Notten et al. 2017).

References

  • Amato, P. R. (2012). Institutional, companionate, and individualistic marriages. Change over time and implications for marital quality. In M. Garrison & E. S. Scott (Eds.), Marriage at the crossroads, law, policy, and the brave new world of twenty-first-century families (pp. 107–125). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Barstad, A. (2014). Equality is bliss? Relationship quantity and the gender division of household labor. Journal of Family Issues, 35(7), 972–992.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bartley, S. J., Blanton, P. W., et al. (2005). Husbands and wives in dual-earner marriages: Decision-making, gender role attitudes, division of household labor, and equity. Marriage & Family Review, 37(4), 69–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Becker, G. S. (1981). A treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bianchi, S. M., Milkie, M. A., et al. (2000). Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor. Social Forces, 79(1), 191–228.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2005). Happines and the human development index: The paradox of Australia. The Australian Economic Review, 38(3), 307–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blom, N., Kraaykamp, G., et al. (2017). Couples’ division of employment and household chores and relationship satisfaction: A test of the specialization and equity hypotheses. European Sociological Review, 33(2), 195–208.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: Modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1208–1233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R., & Lyonette, C. (2005). The new gender essentialism—Domestic and family ‘choices’ and their relation to attitudes. The British Journal of Sociology, 56(4), 601–620.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • De Hoon, S. (2017). Family interdependencies. Partnerships, parenthood and well-being in context. Rotterdam: Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    Google Scholar 

  • Forste, R., & Fox, K. (2012). Household labor, gender roles, and family satisfaction: A cross-national comparison. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 43(5), 613–631.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fuwa, M. (2004). Macro-level gender inequality and the division of household labor in 22 countries. American Sociological Review, 69(6), 751–767.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • García-Faroldi, L. (2017). Attitudes towards childcare and social practices: Discrepancy between attitudes and employment trajectories of mothers in Spain (1994–2012). International Review of Sociology, 27(3), 457–474.

    Google Scholar 

  • García-Faroldi, L., de Miguel-Luken, V., & Ayuso-Sánchez, L. (2017). Responsibility for child and elderly care: Who should cover the costs? A comparison of Baltic and Nordic Countries. Journal of Social Policy and Administration, 51(4), 638–658.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • García-Román, J., Flood, S. M., et al. (2017). Parents’ time with a partner in a cross-national context: A comparison of the United States, Spain, and France. Demographic Research, 36(4), 111–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenstein, T. N. (2009). National context, family satisfaction, and fairness in the division of household labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 1039–1051.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hook, J. L. (2010). Gender inequality in the welfare state: Sex segregation in housework, 1965–2003. American Journal of Sociology, 115(5), 1480–1523.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jansen, L., Weber, T., et al. (2016). Perceived fairness of the division of household labor: A comparative study in 29 countries. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 57(1–2), 53–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, D. R., & Creech, J. C. (1983). Ordinal measures in multiple indicator models: A simulation study of categorization error. American Sociological Review, 48(3), 398–407.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kan, M. Y., & Pudney, S. (2008). Measurement error in stylized and diary data on time use. Sociological Methodology, 38, 101–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kornrich, S., & Eger, M. A. (2016). Family life in context: Men and women’s perceptions of fairness and satisfaction across thirty countries. Social Politics, 23(1), 40–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leckie, G. (2010). Module 5: Introduction to multilevel modelling (Stata practical). LEMMA, VLE, Centre for Multilevel Modelling. http://www.bris.ac.uk/cmm/learning/course.html.

  • Major, B. (1987). Gender, justice, and the psychology of entitlement. In P. Shaver & C. Hendrick (Eds.), Sex and gender (pp. 124–148). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mederer, H. J. (1993). Division of labor in two-earner homes: Task accomplishment versus household management as critical variables in perceptions about family work. Journal of Marriage and Family, 55(1), 133–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meier, J. A., McNaughton-Cassill, M., et al. (2006). The management of household and childcare tasks and relationships satisfaction in dual-earner families. Marriage & Family Review, 40(2–3), 61–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meil Landwerlin, G. (2005). El reparto desigual del trabajo doméstico y sus efectos sobre la estabilidad de los proyectos conyugales. REIS, 111, 163–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mencarini, L., & Sironi, M. (2012). Happiness, housework and gender inequality in Europe. European Sociological Review, 28(2), 203–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norman, G. (2010). Likert scales, levels of measurement and the ‘laws’ of statistics. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 15(5), 625–632.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Notten, N., Grunow, D., et al. (2017). Social policies and families in stress: Gender and educational differences in work–family conflict from a European perspective. Social Indicators Research, 132, 1281–1305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oshio, T., Nozaki, K., & Kobayashi, M. (2013). Division of household labor and marital satisfaction in China, Japan and Korea. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 34, 211–223. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-012-9321-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Öun, I. (2013). Is it fair to share? Perceptions of fairness in the division of housework among couples in 22 countries. Social Justice Research, 26, 400–421.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perales, F., Baxter, J., et al. (2015). Gender, justice and work: A distributive approach to perceptions of housework fairness. Social Science Research, 51, 51–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Poortman, A. R., & Van der Lippe, T. (2009). Attitudes toward housework and child care and the gendered division of labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 526–541.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Quian, Y., & Sayer, L. C. (2016). Division of labor, gender ideology, and marital satisfaction in East Asia. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78, 383–400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Requena, F. (2017). Erotic capital and subjective well-being. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 50, 13–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Requena Santos, F. (1994). Redes de amistad, felicidad y familia. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 66, 73–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reyes Brito, J. P. (2018). The second half of the gender revolution: individual and national determinants of couples’ division of domestic labour. The case of Chilean couples and International Comparisons. Santiago de Chile: Instituto de Sociología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ruppanner, L. (2010). Conflict and housework: Does country context matter? European Sociological Review, 26(5), 557–570.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ruppanner, L. (2012). Housework conflict and divorce: A multi-level analysis. Work, Employment & Society, 26(4), 638–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Snijders, T. A. B., & Bosker, R. J. (1999). Multilevel analysis. London: SAGE Publications Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steiber, N. (2009). Reported levels of time-based and strain-based conflict between work and family roles in Europe: A multilevel approach. Social Indicators Research, 93(3), 469–488.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strandh, M., & Nordenmark, M. (2006). The interference of paid work with household demands in different social policy contexts: Perceived work–household conflict in Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The British Journal of Sociology, 57(4), 597–617.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suitor, J. J. (1991). Marital quality and satisfaction with the division of household labor across the family life cycle. Journal of Marriage and Family, 53(1), 221–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, L. (1991). Family work. Women’s sense of fairness. Journal of Family Issues, 12(2), 181–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Treas, J., & Lui, J. (2013). Studying housework across nations. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 5, 135–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Treas, J., & Tai, T. (2012a). Apron strings of working mothers: Maternal employment and housework in cross-national perspective. Social Science Research, 41, 833–842.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Treas, J., & Tai, T.-O. (2012b). How couples manage the household: Work and power in cross-national perspective. Journal of Family Issues, 33(8), 1088–1116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Willigen, M., & Drentea, P. (2001). Benefits of equitable relationships: The impact of sense of fairness, household division of labor, and decision making power on perceived social support. Sex Roles, 44(9/10), 571–597.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vanassche, S., Swicegood, G., et al. (2013). Marriage and children as a key to happiness? Cross-national differences in the effects of marital status and children on well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 501–524.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1, 125–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilcox, W. B., & Dew, J. (2010). Is love a flimsy foundation? Soulmate versus institutional models of marriage. Social Science Research, 39, 687–699.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilcox, W. B., & Nock, S. L. (2006). What’s love got to do with it? Equality, equity, commitment and women’s marital quality. Social Forces, 84(3), 1321–1345.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, M. J., & Chen, S. (2014). When “mom’s the boss”: Control over domestic decision making reduces women’s interest in workplace power. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17(4), 436–452.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • World Economic Forum. (2016). The Global Gender Gap report 2016. Geneve: WEF. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR16/WEF_Global_Gender_Gap_Report_2016.pdf.

  • Yodanis, C. (2010). The Institution of Marriage. In J. Treas & S. Drobnic (Eds.), Dividing the domestic: Men, women, and household work in cross-national perspective (pp. 175–191). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Yogev, S., & Brett, J. (1985). Perceptions of the division of housework and child care and marital satisfaction. Journal of Marriage and Family, 47(3), 609–618.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

I’m in debt to Professor Tanja van der Lippe, from the Sociology Department of the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands) for hosting me during a research stay, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (Grant José Castillejo CAS2017/00248), that allowed me to work on this research. Financial support was also provided by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, CSO2013-46440-P, CSO2013-45358-R and Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Project No. CSO2017-86349-P.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Verónica de Miguel-Luken.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Appendix

Appendix

See Table 5.

Table 5 Construction of the categories for the balance index, from the standardized partial indexes on division of housework and care, and decision making

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

de Miguel-Luken, V. Cross-National Comparison on Family Satisfaction: Super-Specialization Versus Super-Equality. Soc Indic Res 145, 303–327 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02089-w

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02089-w

Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Housework
  • Family relations
  • Work–family balance
  • Satisfaction