Economic Dependency and the Division of Household Labor: A Longitudinal Examination of the Impact of Relative Earnings on Household Labor

Kimberly A. Daniels, Pennsylvania State University

The economic dependency approach to explaining household labor posits that the economic dependence or independence of one spouse on the other influences their participation in domestic tasks. The argument is often utilized to explain why despite wives’ increased labor force participation there remains an unequal division of household labor. Past research in this area focuses on cross-sectional examinations of economic dependency and spousal household labor contributions. This study advances research in this area by using a longitudinal approach to test how changes in economic dependency within marriages impact household labor patterns. Data from 3,070 married couples from the first two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households are employed to determine how continuity and change in economic dependency within marriages impacts spousal participation in domestic tasks. The expected result is that decreases in wives’ economic dependency on husbands will decrease wives’ time spent on household tasks.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Migration, Income, Employment, Neighborhoods and Residential Context