Gender role conflict and bargaining over housework: the hidden effect of relative resources among couples

Daniela Grunow, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Natalie Nitsche, Vienna Institute of Demography

This paper addresses the gendered division of domestic and care work among couples in Germany. It extends the literature by investigating one possible underlying mechanism through which absolute and relative socio-economic resources of both partners may relate to how couples split up the work. Specifically, we examine whether the partners’ socio-economic resources may have a differential effect on possible bargaining outcomes over the distribution of domestic and care work, dependent on the agreement between partners' gender beliefs and ideology. We suggest that it is necessary to investigate whether both partners' gender ideologies (gender traditional versus egalitarian) actually are in agreement or conflict with each other, when possible measured early in the relationship. We hypothesize that relative and absolute socio-economic resources may play a stronger or different role for bargaining processes and the actual division of chores and childcare when couples disagree about gender roles. Couples who are in agreement on gender ideology may not have a lot to argue about in terms of the division of gendered work arrangements, so that resources may only be relevant and play a much more important role among couples who disagree on gender roles. We use data from the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamic (pairfam) and MLM growth curve models to examine whether the interplay between a mismatch in gender ideology and resources can predict not only the gendered division of housework but also the involvement of fathers in the care of their children.

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Presented in Session 54: Gender equity and division of labor