Volume 35 - Article 48 | Pages 1411–1440

Equality at home - A question of career? Housework, norms, and policies in a European comparative perspective

By Susanne Fahlén

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:21 Jan 2016
Date published:29 Nov 2016
Word count:6620
Keywords:division of household work, dual-earner couples, Europe, family policy, gender, gender norms
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection “Finding Work‒Life Balance: History, Determinants, and Consequences of New Breadwinning Models in the Industrialized World” here.


Background: Dual-earner families are widespread in contemporary Europe, yet the division of housework is highly gendered, with women still bearing the lion’s share. However, women in dual-career couples and in other types of non-traditional couples, across and within different European countries, appear to handle the division of housework differently.

Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the division of housework among various couple-earner types, by determining i) whether relative resources, time spent on paid work, gender attitudes, and family structure reduce variations in housework between different couple types, and ii) whether the division of housework varies between countries with different work‒family policies and gender norms.

Methods: The study uses data from ten countries, representing different welfare regime types, extracted from the European Social Survey (2010/11), and employs multivariate regressions and aggregated analysis of the association between the division of housework and the contextual indices.

Results: The results show that dual-career couples divide housework more equally than dual-earner couples, relating more to the fact that the former group of women do less housework in general, rather than that men are doing more. The cross-national analysis shows tangible differences between dual-earner and dual-career couples; however, the difference is less marked with respect to the division of housework in countries with more institutional support for work‒family reconciliation and less traditional gender norms.

Contribution: By combining conventional economic and gender-based approaches with an institutional framework, this study contributes to the research field by showing that the division of housework within different couple-earner types is contextually embedded.

Author's Affiliation

Susanne Fahlén - Stockholms Universitet, Sweden [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Economic uncertainty and first-birth intentions in Europe
Volume 39 - Article 28

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Should governments in Europe be more aggressive in pushing for gender equality to raise fertility? The second "NO"
Volume 24 - Article 10    | Keywords: Europe, family policy, gender

» Preface to the Rostock Debate on Demographic Change
Volume 24 - Article 6    | Keywords: Europe, family policy, gender

» The educational gradient of living alone: A comparison among the working-age population in Europe
Volume 40 - Article 55    | Keywords: Europe, gender

» Education, labour, and the demographic consequences of birth postponement in Europe
Volume 36 - Article 23    | Keywords: Europe, family policy

» Parental Education and the Gender Gap in University Completion in Europe
Volume 29 - Article 3    | Keywords: Europe, gender


»Volume 35





Similar Articles



Jump to Article

Volume Page
Volume Article ID