How housework relates to life satisfaction among couples (and what women want their men to do)

A recommended research output to study: New research paper by Gigi Foster (University of New South Wales) and Leslie S. Stratton (Virginia Commonwealth University) on housework and happiness among couples. It is freely available as a Global Labor Organization (GLO) Discussion Paper. A core finding is that “when he exceeds housework norms, she is happier with housework allocations, but less happy in broader dimensions.” A puzzle that needs explanations, which are provided in the paper. Enjoy the reading!

Foster, Gigi & Stratton, Leslie S. (2018) : What Women Want (their men to do): Housework and satisfaction in Australian households, GLO Discussion Paper, No. 225. PDF Free Download.

Abstract: The time allocated to household chores is substantial, with the burden falling disproportionately upon women. Further, social norms about how much housework men and women should contribute are likely to influence couples’ housework allocation decisions and satisfaction. Using Australian data spanning the years 2001-2014, the authors employ a two-stage estimation procedure to examine how deviations from housework norms relate to couples’ satisfaction. They find that satisfaction is negatively affected by predicted housework time, and that women’s satisfaction, but not men’s, is robustly affected by their partners’ residual housework time. When he exceeds housework norms, she is happier with housework allocations, but less happy in broader dimensions. The authors discuss several reasons for their results, including that housework is more salient in women’s lives than in men’s, that housework in general is not a preferred activity, and that some degree of gender-norm conformity in regard to housework can positively affect women’s life satisfaction.

GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann in December 2017 in Australia.


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