Gender Convergence in Housework Time: A Life Course and Cohort Perspective

Thomas, L., Skopek, J., and Schulz, F. (2018)


Knowledge about gender convergence in housework time is confined to changes studied across repeated cross-sections of data. This study adds a dynamic view that links broader social shifts in men’s and women’s housework time to individual life-course profiles. Using panel data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (1985–2015), our analysis is the first to trace changes in housework time across the entire adult life course (ages 20–90) and across a large range of cohorts (1920–1990). The results revealed two types of gender convergence in housework time. First, the gender gap converged across the life course, narrowing by more than 50 percent from age 35 until age 70. Life-course profiles of housework time were strongly gendered, as women’s housework time peaked in younger adulthood and declined thereafter, whereas men’s housework time remained stably low for decades and increased only in older age. Second, the gender gap converged across cohorts, narrowing by 40 percent from cohorts 1940 until 1960. Cohort profiles of housework time showed strong declines in women and moderate increases in men. Both cohort trends were linear and extended to the most recently born, supporting the notion of continued convergence in housework time.

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