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No D/648:
Social norms and household time allocation

Cristina Fernandez () and Almudena Sevilla-Sanz

Abstract: Economic theories of the household predict that increases in female relative human capital lead to decreases in female housework time. However, longitudinal and cross-sectional evidence seems to contradict this implication. Women's share of home time fails to decrease despite increases in women's relative earnings. The literature has proposed social norms on the household division of labor as an alternative explanation. We use the 2002-2003 Spanish Time Use Survey (STUS) to explore the presence of social norms associated with the household division of housework and childcare. First, we observe that wives who earn more than their husbands still do more than 50% of the housework and childcare. Second, we find that a woman's relative share of housework decreases as her relative earnings increase, but only up to the point where she earns the same as her husband. Finally, independently of the definition of childcare, the relative time devoted to childcare does not vary with spouses' relative earnings. All these findings suggest that social norms may be an important factor in the division of household time.

Keywords: Household production; intrahousehold allocation; time allocation; social norms; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D13; Z13; (follow links to similar papers)

28 pages, September 11, 2006

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