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This chapter examines variations in time spent on domestic labour and perceptions of the fairness of the domestic division of labour as men and women transition through two key life course events, marriage and childbirth. We use longitudinal data from the Negotiating the Life Course project enabling examination of housework patterns and fairness perceptions before and after transitions to marriage and parenthood. Our results show that women spend considerably more hours on average doing housework than men and that women are more likely than men to perceive the division of housework as unfair. The transition to motherhood results in an increase in women’s routine housework hours, but for men there is considerable stability in housework hours across marriage and parenthood transitions. Perceptions of housework fairness do not change following the transition to marriage, but there is some evidence that having a first child increases both men’s and women’s perceptions that housework arrangements are unfair. We conclude that future work on domestic labour needs to move beyond cross-sectional approaches to explanations of variations in behaviour and perceptions within individuals over the life course.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Book Chapter

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