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Annelene Wengler, Heike Trappe and Christian Schmitt (2009)

Has Anything Really Changed? On the Division of Housework and Parental Tasks in Partnerships*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 34, 1-2/2009, p. 57-78, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s12523-010-0033-2

Abstract: This article focuses on the division of housework and parental tasks within partnerships. Taking as a basis established theoretical explanations of the influence of time budgets as well as resource and power relationships within partnerships, on the one hand, and normative orientations on the other, the interaction of these influencing factors of the division of domestic tasks on the basis of the first wave of the “Generations and Gender Survey” (2005) is subjected to an empirical examination. The analytical and empirical distinction that is made between routine housework and parental tasks is essential here, given that both dimensions of the division of domestic tasks follow different mechanisms with regard to certain aspects. The available results show that women continue to take on the lion’s share of routine housework and parental tasks today. It was not possible to document an egalitarian division of tasks within partnerships in any of the groups observed. A tendency towards an equal sharing of everyday housework was recorded most commonly when no children were living in the household, when the partnership had not yet been in existence so long, when the woman was highly committed to work and made a corresponding contribution towards the household income, as well as where the partners had egalitarian ideas with regard to gender roles. By contrast, the number of children and the time spent living together tell us little with regard to the sharing of parental tasks within a partnership. A balanced division of tasks in this field was most commonly achieved in non-marital co-habitation, if the woman was highly committed to work, and among women and men who held modern ideas when it comes to roles. It is revealed as a whole that none of the established theories is able by itself to comprehensively explain the division of tasks within partnerships.

* peer-reviewed article (original German title: Alles wie gehabt? Zur Aufteilung von Hausarbeit und Elternaufgaben in Partnerschaften)

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