A Longitudinal Evaluation of Gender Display in Spouses' Housework Hours

Alexandra Achen, University of Michigan
Margaret Gough, University of Michigan

Gender display theory suggests that women whose earnings are less than their husbands’ will reduce their housework as they contribute a greater share of family income, while women who contribute a majority of household earnings will spend more time in housework as their earnings rise, compensating for their deviant labor market position with gender-conformist household roles. We use a fixed effects strategy and 1976-1996 data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to test the validity of gender display in explaining changes over time in couples’ housework hours. Using longitudinal data reduces the possibility that our results are due to unobserved differences among couples that affect both labor outcomes and housework hours. After taking into account both couple-specific fixed effects and non-linearities in the relationship between women's own earnings and their housework hours, we find no evidence of gender display behavior.

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Presented in Session 147: Work-Family Barriers to Gender Equality