Explanations for the convergence of men and women

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Reference no: EM131090126

Week 9: Discussion Questions

Bianchi, S.M., M.A. Milkie, L.C. Sayer, & J. P. Robinson. 2000. "Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor." Social Forces 79(1):191-228.

1) What three theoretical perspectives attempt to explain the division of household labor? What is the role of women's employment in these theories? 

2) What are the main findings of this study?

3) What factors have influenced the amount of housework that is being done today compared to the 1960s? 

4) Do you think that men will continue to increase their time spent on household tasks? How can equality in the division of labor be achieved? 

5) The relative resource and specialization frameworks state imply that women are responsible for housework because of their economic dependence on their husbands. In a two-earner household where the wife earns a significant portion of the household income, the economic circumstances of the household depend on both partners. Most authors interpret this situation in terms of a wife's relative economic independence, however it also implies an increase in the husband's economic dependence on his wife's income. Does it make a difference when we frame this in terms of the wife's independence versus the husband's dependence? Why does economic dependence for husbands produce different results on time spent on housework than economic dependence for wives?

6) What is the relationship between husband and wife's egalitarian values and the amount of housework that each performs? How does this help us understand gender relations within the home?

7) Why do Bianchi et al make the distinction between core and other household tasks? Why is this distinction important for understanding the division of labor in the household? 

8) Why might it be the case that husbands' time spent performing housework activities tends not to respond to wife's time and work constraints or to the demands of children?

9) What are some of the differences between time diary measurements and reports of average time spent per week of different tasks? Which is more accurate? How is this important when we use measures of time spent in housework (or another type of) activities?

10) Does the particular set of tasks chosen have an impact on the results? Are there other tasks that should be included? 

11) Time diary reports require respondents to account for twenty-four hours of the day. However, some tasks (e.g. doing laundry) can be done simultaneously with other tasks. How should time for these activities be taken into account?

12) What are the differences in the effects of the presence of girl teenagers and boy teenagers on the time spent performing housework women and for men? What are some possible explanations for the differences observed?

Gupta, S. 1999. "The effects of transitions in marital status on men's performance of housework." Journal of Marriage and the Family 62:700-711.

1) Why would remarriage lead to weaker gender norms and therefore greater involvement of husbands in housework? 

2) What do you think of how the dependent variable "total housework hours" is measured? What are some of the problems with it? How does Gupta address this problem? What are other ways of measuring housework contributions?

3) Why is entry into the co-residential union of greater consequence than the type of union when it comes to the amount of time the partners spend on household work? 

4) What are possible explanations for the convergence of men and women's time spent cooking?

5) This study does not include measures of time spent in childcare in the total amount of time spent doing housework. Should childcare be considered housework (or unpaid labor)? Should it be considered a core and/or female task? How might we expect the results to be different if information on childcare is included in the analysis?

6) How do the types of housework included in this study vary from those included in the other studies? How do the type of tasks categorized as "female" tasks in Gupta differ from those categorized as "core" tasks in Bianchi et al.?

7) Gupta finds that, on average, men's housework decreases 3.6 hours when they enter a union and increases 5.2 hours when they exit a union. Does this imply a net increase of 1.6 (-3.6+5.2) hours in the amount of housework following a union? Why or why not?

Leibowitz, A. & J. A.l Klerman. 1995. "Explaining changes in married mothers' employment over time." Demography 32(3):365-378.

1) Why has the employment of married mothers dramatically increased between 1971 and 1990? 

2) Leibowitz and Klerman limit their sample to married mothers because their primary aim is to understand how "growth over time in women's earnings opportunities ... in relation to men's altered women's work decisions." Is it possible that the growth in married women's earnings opportunities is also related to (and influenced by) the opportunities experienced by women with no children and unmarried (both never married and separated/divorced) mothers? In particular, is the exclusion of married women without children an important omission? Why or why not?

3) One explanation given for women's increased labor force participation is their lower fertility levels. Could the causal mechanism be working in the other direction? For example, could it be the case that women with better economic opportunities are more likely to have fewer children? Is there a feedback mechanism? How might we determine the causal links between fertility and women's labor force participation?

4) What are the implications of the finding that the absolute effect of men's earnings was shrinking over time?

Rogers, S. J. & P.R. Amato. "Have changes in gender relations affected marital quality?" Social Forces 79(2):731-753.

1) In what ways have relationships changed over time, especially in the "gendered domains" of relationships? 

2) What do you think about how the husband's contribution to household work was measured in this paper? 

3) What are some problems with the 1997 sample? How is the 1997 sample different from the 1980 sample?

4) What are "traditional" gender roles? Why would we expect changes in gender-role expectations to affect the quality of marriages? 

5) This study uses reports of both spouses attitudes about fairness and conflict, however the attitudes of both spouses are reported by one spouse. How might this affect the results of the analysis?

6) The results of this study imply that changes in gender-role expectations cannot explain the observed increases in marital discord. Do you think that the results might be different if the authors had used a variable that measured whether both spouses' gender-role expectations were in accordance with each other? In other words, is it changes in gender-role expectations per se that would cause conflict or the different expectations between spouses that would cause conflict?

Reference no: EM131090126

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