Thesis

The division of household labor and its effect on work-life balance among spouses and cohabiting partners: A comparison of gender relations in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal

Thesis (M.A., Sociology)--California State University, Sacramento, 2013.

With growing participation of women in the labor force, new challenges continue to rise for women to meet daily demands of the home and work environment. Social scientists have re-focused their research efforts to identify what factors are critical in helping women balance their work and family life. This study is a comparative analysis of how the division of household labor among spouses and cohabiting partners living in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal is a key contributing factor in balancing the work and home environment. The findings of the study based on the 2002 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) data set indicate that individuals who believe that men and women should be treated more equally experience higher levels of work-life balance. This effect increases when individuals perceive that their spouses or cohabiting partners spend more weekly hours on household labor. Being more financially dependent on a spouse or cohabiting partner also increases work-life balance for an individual; however, this effect decreases when the individual does less than his/her fair share of household labor. Additionally, an individual experiences less work-life balance when he/she perceives that the spouse or cohabiting partner does more than the fair share of household labor. Throughout the study, results indicate that women compared to men experience less work-life balance which points to the traditional gender role pressures within the home environment that women to this day have to face. Living in Germany or in the Netherlands compared to living in the United States increases an individual’s work-life balance while living in Portugal has no such effect. The positive country-effects suggest that there is stronger governmental support in Germany and in the Netherlands for spouses or cohabiting partners who are dual-income earners.

With growing participation of women in the labor force, new challenges continue to rise for women to meet daily demands of the home and work environment. Social scientists have re-focused their research efforts to identify what factors are critical in helping women balance their work and family life. This study is a comparative analysis of how the division of household labor among spouses and cohabiting partners living in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal is a key contributing factor in balancing the work and home environment. The findings of the study based on the 2002 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) data set indicate that individuals who believe that men and women should be treated more equally experience higher levels of work-life balance. This effect increases when individuals perceive that their spouses or cohabiting partners spend more weekly hours on household labor. Being more financially dependent on a spouse or cohabiting partner also increases work-life balance for an individual; however, this effect decreases when the individual does less than his/her fair share of household labor. Additionally, an individual experiences less work-life balance when he/she perceives that the spouse or cohabiting partner does more than the fair share of household labor. Throughout the study, results indicate that women compared to men experience less work-life balance which points to the traditional gender role pressures within the home environment that women to this day have to face. Living in Germany or in the Netherlands compared to living in the United States increases an individual’s work-life balance while living in Portugal has no such effect. The positive country-effects suggest that there is stronger governmental support in Germany and in the Netherlands for spouses or cohabiting partners who are dual-income earners.

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