How are household chores divided in female breadwinner couples?

Joan Garcia Román, Centre for Demographic Studies (UAB)
"la Caixa” Social Observatory Award for the best article in the field of Social Inclusion

The number of couples where only the female partner is in paid employment has increased considerably over recent decades. This type of partnership brings with it a new and infrequent division of gender roles in the household. The woman’s salary represents the sole or the main income, so this should also influence the division of household chores.
Key points
  • 1
       In Spain, the phenomenon of couples where the female is the sole earner is relatively recent, and to a large extent is the consequence of the destruction of employment in male-dominated sectors during the economic recession.
  • 2
       The characteristics of these couples have changed since 2003: today they are younger; they are more likely to have children and to cohabit; also, there are more couples in which the female partner has a higher level of education than the male.
  • 3
       Families where the woman is sole earner are more egalitarian than other types of family. This is reflected in a more equitable division of household chores between men and women.
  • 4
       However, in Spain, there has been no substantial change in the gender gap in the performance of these chores, which still fall mainly to women, even when the woman is the only partner in paid employment.
Gender gap in the time devoted to activities (minutes per day), Spain.
Gender gap in the time devoted to activities (minutes per day), Spain.

The graph shows how the difference of time (in minutes) dedicated to each task according to gender has changed between 2003 and 2010. The figure, therefore, means the value of this difference.

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Joan Garcia Román, Centre for Demographic Studies (UAB)
"la Caixa” Social Observatory Award for the best article in the field of Social Inclusion

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