Time for a Change? The Domestic Division of Labor in Comparative Perspective, 1994 and 2002

Claudia Geist, University of Utah
Philip N. Cohen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper examines housework over time in comparative perspective. We seek to understand gendered housework in the larger context of social change, testing specifically whether cross-national differences in domestic labor patterns converge over time. Using data from 16 countries from the 1994 and 2002 waves of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), we find that the division of labor at home became somewhat more egalitarian over this period. Social context matters in shaping housework patterns: While we establish an overall trend towards more equality, we also demonstrate that the shift in the domestic division of labor was greatest among the most traditional countries, and smallest among those who already had a more egalitarian division of labor. Our findings provide support for the thesis of cultural convergence, yet do not imply that converge is directed towards complete equality.

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Presented in Session 191: Comparative Perspectives on Gender and Time Use in the Household