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A comparative study of division of household labour across family life stages in Sweden, Germany, and the United States Tang, Chen Yu


I examine the effects of two life stages --- the preschool stage (defined as having preschool children in the house) and the school-age stage (defined as having school-age children in the house) --- on the division of household labour in Sweden (N = 480), Germany (N = 689), and the United States (N = 465), using the 2002 International Social Survey Programme. I also examine time availability, relative resource, and gender ideology as the mediating factors in the relationship between life stages and the division of household labour. Initial analysis finds no variation in spouses’ relative frequency of housework participation when examined by the presence of children of either age group. Post-hoc analysis via separate examination of men’s and women’s reported housework hours finds stability in men’s number of hours of housework regardless of life stages across the three countries but variation in Swedish and U.S. women’s housework time across life stages and between countries. The results suggest that women spend more time in housework than men, regardless of life stages and country differences. However, while men’s time spent in housework is unaffected by the presence of preschool or school-age children, women’s time spent in housework may increase depending on the presence of children of these two age groups as well as the type of welfare regime of the country they live in. Neither in the initial nor in the post-hoc analysis are any of the proposed mediation effects established. Nonetheless, time, resource and gender ideology are shown to have differing predictive power on the division of household labour within and across countries.

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