The persistence of the gendered division of domestic labour

Richard Breen, Lynn Prince Cooke

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163 Citations (SciVal)


Why has the gendered division of domestic labour proved so resistant to change despite the growth in married women’s labour force participation? We develop a game theoretic model of marriage to show that women’s individual levels of relative economic autonomy are not in themselves sufficient to bring about an aggregate shift in the division of domestic labour. Using data for 22 countries from the 1994 International Social Survey Programme, we show that what is required is that there be a greater proportion of economically autonomous women within the society as a whole, together with a sufficiently large proportion of men who, if faced with an economically autonomous woman, would rather participate in domestic tasks than endure marital breakdown. These results suggest that until we see greater gender material equality for the majority of women in a society and an evolution in men’s gender ideology, the gendered division of domestic labour will persist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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