Uncovering the Choreography of Life: The Impact of Life Transitions on Gendered Housework Patterns

About this Session


Thu. 11.04. 11:30



Authors – Pia Hanna Molitor, Mara Rebaudo

Abstract :

Housework patterns continue to differ by gender, despite rising female labour market participation and income levels. This largely holds irrespectively of the family situation, age, and levels of income and education (Grunow et al. (2012)). The unequal distribution of household tasks results in diverging labour market outcomes, life satisfaction, and mental well-being between women and men (Noonan (2001)). Yet, the distribution of household work is not immutable, but rather changes over the life course of both women and men.

Using event-study analysis on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel for the years 2000-2019 and leveraging both timing-based and treated-control heterogeneity for identification, we examine how significant life transitions impact the participation in daily housework chores. To rule out treatment-effect heterogeneity, we use a novel imputation-based estimator (Borusyak et al. (2023)). Our findings reveal that gender differences in housework intensify particularly during the transition to cohabitation. While both men and women increase their housework hours upon entering cohabitation, the effect for men is weaker and short-lived. In contrast, women cohabiting with a male partner increase their daily hours of housework in the long term. The effects for women after marriage are even stronger, however only when considering a sample of people not cohabitating previously. The dynamics reverse following a divorce. Women decrease their housework hours after a divorce, albeit to a lesser extent than the increase observed after marriage or cohabitation. Conversely, men increase their daily housework hours after getting divorced to a higher extent than observed after cohabitation. These results hold if we control for factors known to influence housework burdens, that is, age, the existence of children, income, education, hours worked in the labour market, and the size of the living space. Our findings imply that policies targeting the life transitions surrounding entering and exiting a partnership are likely to greatly affect the gendered distribution of household work.

Borusyak, K., Jaravel, X., & Spiess, J. (2023). Revisiting event study designs: Robust and efficient estimation. arXiv preprint arXiv:2108.12419.

Grunow, D., Schulz, F., & Blossfeld, H. P. (2012). What determines change in the division of housework over the course of marriage?. International Sociology, 27(3), 289-307.

Noonan, M. C. (2001). The impact of domestic work on men’s and women’s wages. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(4), 1134-1145.