Gendered Housework: Spousal Relative Income, Parenthood and Traditional Gender Identity Norms

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Despite women’s increased market employment and earnings, the gender housework gap persists. Drawing on US data from 1999 to 2017 waves of Panel Study of Income Dynamics (6643 dual-earner heterosexual couples, 19,602 couple-year observations) and using couples fixed effects, this study examines the impact of having children on the relationship between partners’ housework time and spousal relative income. While parenthood could theoretically incentivize a more efficient division of labour, I find it has a traditionalizing effect and parents’ housework exhibits significant gender deviance neutralization, while housework division of childless couples is independent of relative income. In fact, these effects are so sizeable, that parents’ gender gap in the division of domestic labour increases in the higher range of women’s relative income. As the gender earnings gap closes and women’s relative income increases, the gender housework gap opens. Additionally, the traditionalizing parenthood effect is identified only among married and not cohabiting parents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794-813
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number3
Early online date9 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023


  • fixed effect
  • gender deviance neutralization
  • gender housework gap
  • housework
  • marriage
  • parenthood
  • specialization
  • spousal relative income

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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