Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 44, Issue 9–10, pp 571–597 | Cite as

Benefits of Equitable Relationships: The Impact of Sense of Fairness, Household Division of Labor, and Decision Making Power on Perceived Social Support

  • Marieke Van WilligenEmail author
  • Patricia Drentea
Article

Abstract

We examine the impact of equity in intimate relationships on perceived social support among married and cohabiting individuals. We found performing an inequitable portion of the housework or feeling one's portion of the housework is unfair corresponds with lower perceived social support for both individuals in advantaged and disadvantaged positions of power. The highest level of social support results when partners contribute equally to household decisions. In contrast to earlier studies, women do not perceive inequitable household responsibilities as more fair than do men. We argue perceived social support is based in part on the structural conditions of marital arrangements. Five percent of the participants identified as Black, 89% as White, and 6% as members of other racial groups. The average participant had just over a high school education, with a median family income of $42,427.

Keywords

Social Support Income Family Income Structural Condition School Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Amato, P. R., & Booth, A. (1995). Changes in gender role attitudes and perceived marital quality. American Sociological Review, 60, 58–66.Google Scholar
  2. Beach, S. R. H., Martin, J. K., Blum, T. C., & Roman, P. M. (1993). Effects of marital and coworker relationships on negative affect: Testing the central role of marriage. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(4), 313–323.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (1995). The normal chaos of love. Oxford, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  4. Bianchi, S. M., Milkie, M. A., Sayer, L. C., & Robinson, J. P. (2000). Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor. Social Forces, 79(2), 191–228.Google Scholar
  5. Bielby, W. T., & Bielby, D. D. (1989). Family ties: Balancing commitments to work and family in dual earner households. American Sociological Review, 54, 776–789.Google Scholar
  6. Blair, S. L. (1993). Employment, family, and perceptions of marital quality among husbands and wives. Journal of Family Issues, 14, 189–212.Google Scholar
  7. Blair, S. L., & Johnson, M. P. (1992). Wives perceptions of fairness of the division of household labor: The intersection of housework and ideology. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54, 570–581.Google Scholar
  8. Brewster, K., & Padavic, I. (2000). Change in gender-ideology, 1977–1996: The contributions of intracohort change and population turnover. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(2), 477–487.Google Scholar
  9. Brines, J. (1994). Economic dependency, gender, and the division of labor at home. American Journal of Sociology, 100(3), 652–688.Google Scholar
  10. Broman, C. L. (1988). Household work and family life satisfaction of blacks. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 743–748.Google Scholar
  11. Cate, R. M., Lloyd, S. A., Henton, J. M., & Larson, J. H. (1982). Fairness and reward level as predictors of relationship satisfaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 45(3), 177–181.Google Scholar
  12. Center for Demography and Ecology (1995). National Survey of Families and Households: Wave 2 19921994. Unpublished codebook, University of Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  13. Cheal, D. J. (1991). Family and the state of theory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, S., & Syme, S. L. (1985). Issues in the study and application of social support. In S. Cohen and S. L. Syme (Eds.), Social support and health (pp. 3–22). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Cutrona, C. (1986). Objective determinants of perceived social support. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(2), 349–355.Google Scholar
  16. Davidson, B. (1984). A test of equity theory for marital adjustment. Social Psychology Quarterly, 47(1), 36–42.Google Scholar
  17. DeMaris, A., & Longmore, M. A. (1996). Ideology, power, and equity: Testing competing explanations for the perception of fairness in household labor. Social Forces, 74, 1043–1071.Google Scholar
  18. Deutsch, F. M. (1999). Halving it all: How equally shared parenting works. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gager, C. T. (1998). The role of valued outcomes, justifications, and comparison referents in perceptions of fairnessamongdual-earner couples. Journal ofFamily Issues, 19(5), 622–648.Google Scholar
  20. Gerstel, N., Riessman, C. K., & Rosenfield, S. (1985). Explaining the symptomatology of separated and divorced women and men: The role of material conditions and social networks. Social Forces, 64(1), 84–101.Google Scholar
  21. Giddens, A. (1992). The transformation of intimacy. Oxford, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  22. Glass, J., & Fujimoto, T. (1994). Housework, paid work and depression among husbands and wives. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 35, 179–191.Google Scholar
  23. Greenstein, T.N. (1996). Husband's participation in domestic labor: Interactive effects of wives' and husbands' gender ideologies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58(3), 585–596.Google Scholar
  24. Greenstein, T. N. (2000). Economic dependence, gender, and the division of labor in the home: A replication and extension. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 322–335.Google Scholar
  25. Hatfield, E., Greenberger, D., Traupmann, J., & Lambert, P. (1982). Equity and sexual satisfaction in recently married couples. The Journal of Sex Research, 18, 18–32.Google Scholar
  26. Hochschild, A., & Machung, A. (1989). The second shift. New York: Avon Books.Google Scholar
  27. House, J. S. (1981). Work stress and social support. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  28. House, J. S., & Kahn, R. L. (1985). Measures and concepts of social support. In S. Cohen and S. L. Syme (Eds.), Social support and health (pp. 83–108). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ishii-Kuntz, M., & Coltrane, S. (1992). Predicting the share of household labor: Are parenting and housework distinct? Sociological Perspectives, 35, 629–647.Google Scholar
  30. John, D., Shelton, B. A., & Luschen, K. (1995). Race, ethnicity, gender, and perceptions of fairness. Journal of Family Issues, 16, 357–379.Google Scholar
  31. Lakey, B., & Cassady, P. B. (1990). Cognitive processes in perceived social support. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(2), 337–343.Google Scholar
  32. Lennon, M. C., & Rosenfield, S. (1994). Relative fairness and the division of housework: The importance of opinions. American Journal of Sociology, 100, 506–531.Google Scholar
  33. Lerner, M. J., & Mikula, G. (1994). Entitlement and the affectional bond: Justice in close relationships. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  34. Major, B. (1993). Gender, entitlement, and the distribution of family labor. Journal of Social Issues, 49(3), 141–159.Google Scholar
  35. Mirowsky, J. (1985). Depression and marital power: An equity model. American Journal of Sociology, 91(3), 557–592.Google Scholar
  36. Mirowsky, J., & Reynolds, J. (2000). Age, depression and attrition in the National Survey of Families and Households. Sociological Methods and Research, 28(4), 476–504.Google Scholar
  37. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (1986). Social patterns of distress. In R. H. Turner and J. F. Short (Eds.), Annual review of sociology (pp. 23–45). Palo Alto: Annual Reviews.Google Scholar
  38. Mishel, L., Bernstein, L., & Schmitt, J. (1997). The state of working America: 19961997. Economic Policy Institute Series. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  39. Olstad, R., Sexton, H., & Søgaard, A. J. (1999). The Finnmark study: Social support, social network and mental distress in a prospective population study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 34(10), 519–525.Google Scholar
  40. Piňa, D. L., & Bengtson, V. L. (1993). The division of household labor and wives' happiness: Ideology, employment, and perceptions of support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 901–912.Google Scholar
  41. Presser, H. (1994). Employment schedules among dual earner spouses and the division of labor by gender. American Sociological Review, 59(3), 348–364.Google Scholar
  42. Risman, B. J., & Johnson-Sumerford, D. (1998). Doing it fairly: A study of postgender marriages. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60(1), 23–40.Google Scholar
  43. Robinson, J., & Spitze, G. (1992). Whistle while you work? The effect of household task performance on women's and men's well-being. Social Science Quarterly, 73, 844–861.Google Scholar
  44. Ross, C. (1987). The division of labor at home. Social Forces, 65(3), 816–833.Google Scholar
  45. Ross, C. (1995). Reconceptualizing marital status as a continuum of social attachment. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 129–140.Google Scholar
  46. Ross, C., & Mirowsky, J. (1989). Explaining the social patterns of depression: Control and problem solving-or support and talking? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 30, 206–219.Google Scholar
  47. Ross, C., & Mirowsky, J. (1992). Households, employment, and the sense of control. Social Psychology Quarterly, 55(3), 217–235.Google Scholar
  48. Ross, C. E., Mirowsky, J., & Goldsteen, K. (1990). The impact of the family on health: The decade in review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 1059–1078.Google Scholar
  49. Ross, C. E., Mirowsky, J., & Huber, J. (1983). Dividing work, sharing work, and in-between: Marriage patterns and depression. American Sociological Review, 48(6), 809–823.Google Scholar
  50. Ross, C. E., & Van Willigen, M. (1996). Gender, Parenthood, and Anger. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 572–584.Google Scholar
  51. Ross, C. E., & VanWilligen, M. (1997). Education and the subjective quality of life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38(3), 275–297.Google Scholar
  52. Sarason, I.G., Sarason, B. R., & Shearin, E.N. (1986). Social support as an individual difference variable: Its stability, origins, and relational aspects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(4), 845–855.Google Scholar
  53. Scanzoni, J., & Szinovacz, M. (1980). Family decision making: A developmental sex role model. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  54. Schafer, R. B., & Keith, P. M. (1980). Equity and depression among married couples. Social Psychology Quarterly, 40(4), 430–435.Google Scholar
  55. Schaefer, C., Coyne, J. C., & Lazarus, R. S. (1981). The health-related functions of social support. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 381–406.Google Scholar
  56. Schwartz, P. (1984). Love between equals:Howpeer marriage really works. NewYork: Free Press.Google Scholar
  57. Shelton, B. A., & John, D. (1996). The division of household labor. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 299–322.Google Scholar
  58. Simon, R. (1992). Parental role strains, salience of parental identity and gender differences in psychological distress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 33, 25–35.Google Scholar
  59. South, S. J., & Spitze, G. (1994). Housework in marital and nonmarital households. American Sociological Review, 59, 327–347.Google Scholar
  60. Sprecher, S. (1988). Investment model, equity, and social support determinants of relationship commitment. Social Psychology Quarterly, 51(4), 318–328.Google Scholar
  61. Stohs, J. H. (2000). Multicultural women's experience of household labor, conflicts, and equity. Sex Roles, 42(5/6), 339–361.Google Scholar
  62. Thoits, P. A. (1991). On merging identity theory and stress research. Social Psychology Quarterly, 54(2), 101–112.Google Scholar
  63. Thorton, A. (1989). Changing attitudes toward family issues in the United States. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 873–893.Google Scholar
  64. Turner, R. J., & Marino, F. (1994). Social support and social structure: A descriptive epidemiology. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 35, 193–212.Google Scholar
  65. United Nations (1995). The world's women 1995: Trends and statistics. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  66. Walster, E., & Walster, G. W. (1975). Equity and social justice. Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 21–43.Google Scholar
  67. Walster, E., Walster, G.W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  68. Wethington, E., & Kessler, R. C. (1986). Perceived support, received support, and adjustment to stressful life events. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 27(1), 78–89.Google Scholar
  69. Wheaton, B. (1985). Models for the stress-buffering functions of coping resources. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 26, 352–364.Google Scholar
  70. Yogev, S., & Brett, J. (1985). Perceptions of the division of housework and child care and marital satisfaction. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 609–618.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.East Carolina UniversityUSA;
  2. 2.The University of Alabama at BirminghamUSA

Personalised recommendations