Married women did more housework than average for their gender even before they got hitched, but married men did less. That is one of the findings of a new study of time use by Cristina Borra, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society''s annual conference at the University of Bristol in April 2017.
The research analyses longitudinal diary studies from the UK, the United States and Australia to find gender differences in the amount of housework done by married couples and singles.
Married women do five hours more housework a week than singles, but the study finds that they were already putting in three of those hours before they were married. Married men do an hour and half less housework than unmarried men, but make it up through DIY and doing the bills. Unlike their wives, they didn''t change their housework routine after they got married.
The author comments: ''Understanding how the time devoted to home production changes after marriage is important when measuring the welfare gains of forming or dissolving a couple. Our research is a first attempt to understand the nature of the differences between single and married individuals that moves beyond monetary income to include time data when identifying individual living standards.''
Our study shows that women with a higher predisposition towards housework are also more likely to marry. Men are not, however, equally selected.
On average, married/partnered individuals do more housework than singles. Using cross-sectional evidence from a representative 24-hour diary surveys for over 10 industrialised countries, our research shows that married women consistently spend about five more hours per week on mainly routine housework, such as cleaning or cooking, than comparable single women.
Married men do about one and a half hours less than single men, although married men do one and a half hours more of non-routine housework, such as DYI and managing finances.
We explore whether differences in time devoted to housework are due to marriage, or whether they constitute a feature of marrying individuals that was present before getting married.
To that end, we use longitudinal data from the UK (1991-2008), the United States (1992-2011), and Australia (2002-2013), which follow the same individual over time.
We find that the genuine increase in women''s routine housework time after marriage is just about two hours, and not the five hours found in the cross-section. The remaining three hours is due to inherent differences among single and married women: women who marry are simply more housework-oriented.
In contrast, men who marry are less housework-oriented: when the same man is followed over time we no longer find the decrease in housework previously observed in the cross-section.
Understanding how the time devoted to home production changes after marriage is important when measuring the welfare gains of forming/dissolving a couple. Our research is a first attempt to understand the nature of the differences between single and married individuals that moves beyond monetary income to include time data when identifying individual living standards.
Our results can inform public welfare policies interested in inferring the right incomes needed by households of different sizes and compositions to reach a given standard of living.