Selected Findings


Housework Division



Using integrated data on individuals and occupations from the US Census (1960-2010) and the ACS surveys (2001-2015), the findings show, similarly to previous studies, that in recent decades, and especially from 1980 onwards, a growing number of women in the US have approached the head of the occupational ladder. This shift has been fuelled by women’s growing educational attainments, which, together with the rising economic premium to education, have greatly contributed to the decline in gender wage gaps. Furthermore, based on these changes, the negative association between female percentage in occupations and occupational pay levels declines over time (see model 1 in the figure). This decline is most apparent from 1980 onward, a period in which US women witnessed a significant improvement in their occupational standing, and a period where occupations requiring higher education enjoyed a large wage premium. However, when examining the effect of gender composition of the occupation after accounting for women’s higher education and for the level of education in occupations, the trend is reversed; the negative net effect of female percentage on occupational pay intensifies over time (see model 2 in the figure). These two opposite processes reflect the upward occupational mobility of women, on the one hand, and its gendered consequences, on the other hand.

Mandel, Hadas. 2018. A Second Look at the Process of Occupational Feminization and Pay Reduction in Occupations. Demography, 55(2): 669-690.
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The paper explores cross-country variation in the relationship between division of housework and wives’ relative economic contribution. We examined the effect of two contextual factors: women’s labor force participation rate, which we link to economic exchange theories; and gender ideology context, which we link to cultural theories. While economic exchange proponents assert that housework the division of housework stems from a rational negotiation between the spouses, based on their relative economic position cultural theories explains the division of labor between wives and husbands in terms of gender relations, manifested and reaffirmed by symbolic presentations of gender roles. In order to adjust to the prevailing cultural and social norms, working wives do most of the housework—even if the amount of time they invest in paid work and their relative economic contribution is the same, or higher, than their husbands. 
Our findings show that in line with economic-based theories, economic exchange between housework and paid work occurs in all countries—but only in households which follow normative gender roles. However, and consistent with the cultural-based theory, wives undertake more housework than their spouses in all countries—even if they are the main or sole breadwinners. And yet, cross country variation noticeable and highly related to the ideological context of the country. That is, the universal gendered division of housework is significantly more salient in more conservative countries; as the context turns more conservative, the gender gap becomes more pronounced, and the relationship between paid and unpaid work further removed from the economic logic. However, in gender-egalitarian societies women have more power in negotiating housework responsibilities in non-normative gender role households. In contrast to gender ideology, the cross-country variations in women’s labor participation did not follow the expectations that derive from the economic exchange theory under which higher rates of women’s labor participation should relate to a more egalitarian division of housework.

Mandel, Hadas, Amit Lazarus and Maayan Shaby. 2020.
Economic Exchange or Gender Identities? Housework Division and Wives’ Economic Dependency in Different Contexts. European Sociological Review.
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