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Historical changes in the household division of labor

  • Household and Family Demography
  • Published:
Demography

Abstract

A number of studies published in the 1970s asserted that the amount of time women spend doing housework shows no historical decline. This article draws on evidence from time-budget surveys—three from the United States (1965, 1975, and 1985) and three from the United Kingdom (1961, 1974, and 1984)—to investigate the evolution of housework time for men and women over the last three decades. Clearly much other than housework has changed over this period. More women have paid jobs, more men are unemployed, and families have gotten smaller on average. Even having controlled for such sociodemographic changes, we conclude that in the two countries, women in the 1980s do substantially less housework than those in equivalent circumstances in the 1960s, and that men do a little more than they did (although still much less than women). These changes correspond closely to developments in four other countries (Canada, Holland, Denmark, and Norway) for which historical time-budget evidence is available.

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Gershuny, J., Robinson, J.P. Historical changes in the household division of labor. Demography 25, 537–552 (1988). https://doi.org/10.2307/2061320

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