What reduces women’s housework burden? A new study shows that on average it doesn’t have much to do with her husband’s help or his earnings, but how much money SHE earns. The more she earns, the less housework she does.
The old news: For over a decade, people who study how men and women share (or don’t share) housework offered a depressing answer to the question of when a woman can expect to stop doing the lion’s share of housework. The data suggested that when women earned as much or more than their male partners, they did MORE housework.
The new news: A new study from Professor Sanjiv Gupta, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, suggests a different answer: Whether she earns more or less than her partner makes little difference; what influences her share of housework is simply how much she earns herself. Professor Gupta reports that for every $7,500 in additional income, a woman’s share of housework declines by one hour per week.
The good news: One interpretation of the earlier finding was that successful women were so threatening to their husbands that the men actually cut back on housework to salvage their masculine pride, or the women took on more housework to build up their husbands’ egos. The new findings challenge that view.
The downside: It isn’t all rosy: Although there has been a significant rise in the number of households where men and women share chores equally, regardless of their relative earnings, old assumptions about women’s responsibility forhousehold work remain very widespread. Gupta points out that in most cases, “not only do women spend more time on everyday housework than do their husbands, they also appear to draw only upon their own earnings to cut down on it, not their husbands’.”
The Council on Contemporary Families is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. Our members include demographers, economists, family therapists, historians, political scientists, psychologists, social workers, sociologists, as well as other family social scientists and practitioners.
Founded in 1996 and now based in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami, the Council’s mission is to enhance the national understanding of how and why contemporary families are changing, what needs and challenges they face, and how these needs can best be met. To fulfill that mission, the Council holds annual conferences, open to the public, and issues periodic briefing papers and fact sheets.