How Money Matters: College, Motherhood, Earnings and Wives’ Housework

Margaret L. Usdansky, Syracuse University
Wendy Parker, Syracuse University

Using new data from the American Time Use Survey, we consider how educational and parental status influence the relationship between wives’ relative earnings and the time they devote to housework in a climate of heightened gender egalitarianism and growing similarity between women’s and men’s time use. We study four groups of wives. Among wives with children at home and without a college degree, we find that relative earnings bear a curvilinear relationship to housework time, supporting predictions derived from relative resources and gender display theory. Among wives with children and a college degree, and among wives without children regardless of degree status, relative earnings are unrelated to housework. However, wives’ own earnings are inversely related to housework time across all four groups. Our analyses suggest that educational and parental contexts jointly shape the relationship between wives’ earnings and their housework and the relative importance of bargaining, gender display and autonomy.

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Presented in Session 70: Resource Allocation in Families and Households