Volume 47 - Article 20 | Pages 577–614  

Culture portability from origin to destination country: The gender division of domestic work among migrants in Italy

By Elisa Brini, Anna Zamberlan, Paolo Barbieri


Background: The relative importance of a cultural component in the gender division of unpaid labour is still debated.

Objective: Drawing on the epidemiological approach to the study of culture, we investigate the cultural component of gender inequality by examining whether gender asymmetries in housework and childcare in families with a migrant background relate to gender equity in the country of origin.

Methods: Through multilevel models based on microlevel data (Istat SCIF survey), we examine the extent to which the division of household labour between immigrant partners living in Italy relates to gender equity in their origin country, proxied by the Global Gender Gap Index. We further analyse the changing importance of gender equity in the country of origin at different lengths of stay in the destination country.

Conclusions: Immigrants from more (less) gender-equal countries display greater (lower) equality in the division of routine housework and childcare activities. However, gender equity in the origin country loses its importance for couples living in the destination country for a longer time. These findings point to a significant contribution of culture of origin to gender inequality in the intra-couple division of unpaid labour. Yet nonnegligible differences exist between specific housework and childcare tasks and depending on the time spent in the hosting country.

Contribution: Our study contributes to the literature on gender inequalities by providing new evidence on the relationship between culture of origin and the division of specific housework and childcare tasks in families with a migrant background.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Gender inequality in domestic chores over ten months of the UK COVID-19 pandemic: Heterogeneous adjustments to partners’ changes in working hours
Volume 46 - Article 19

Retraditionalisation? Work patterns of families with children during the pandemic in Italy
Volume 45 - Article 31

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