Using information presented in class lectures, discuss the division of household labor (DoHL) in the United States. Specifically, discuss: a) how the DoHL has changed since 1965 (with particular emphasis on core versus “other” tasks); b) the five factors that explain the DoHL; c) the effects of the DoHL on psychological well-being; and d) how the DoHL affects couples’ marital quality and stability (including material from class lectures and Hochschild’s Second Shift).
The DoHL changes after having children which tends to be more equitable between the man and woman since they have to split their time to make sure that they can work on a safe and happy environment for everybody, especially children. The change in DoHL between 1965 to present has drastically changed because women started to have their own careers, so for example in 1965 women would put in 7. 2 hrs more than fathers in taking care of the household and in 1985, women would put in only 2 more hours than fathers.
The reason that is, is because most women in 1965 were committed housewives whereas as time progressed, with more women rights, women were focused on establishing their own career path. The core tasks are tasks that simply cannot be ignored, so for example cooking, cleaning, dishes and laundry are core tasks and now it has changed because it would usually be the women doing all of that back in the 60’s. Currently they don’t have time to do that so they learn how to split the chores with their husband.
That’s why in the gender outline, you see the total hours under fathers generally increasing and the total hours under mothers decreasing as the years go by. If they are both working long hours, if they have enough money, they can hire someone to come and do the core tasks. There are five factors that explain DoHL; husbands’ and wives’ gender role attitudes, educational level, race and ethnicity, wives’ employment and presence of minor children. Starting with attitudes, it all starts with traditionalism.
If the wife is a traditionalist, then by large she will do a lot more household labors compared to a wife who isn’t a traditionalist. If the wife isn’t a traditionalist, and her husband is, then there will be a struggle in DoHL, most likely she will end up doing most of the housework. Most successful marriages are when they are both non-traditionalists. Next factor is education, on average, the more education they have the more liberal attitudes they will hold on social issues in general, therefore being less traditional.
However if they have quite some money, then gender attitudes may change, so for example, if he can support the whole family with a high salary, she may not see a need to work and would decide to stay at home with the children. In race and ethnicity white men tend to have the most traditional beliefs, black men have the least. Looking at core tasks, black men do the most, Hispanics next, then white last. Another factor, wives employment does change it because if she has a career the less time she will have to do the core tasks.
If the wife is employed, her core tasks and her husband’s core tasks go down because of less time on both people. In other tasks (like paying bills), which is less time consuming, the numbers increased. The last factor is the presence of minor children, if they don’t have children, then as what we would expect, the disparity in terms of household labor is very small, however if they are both working and have children with childcare, then there is noticeable discrepancy, since women put in almost twice as many hours as men. The effects of DoHL on psychological well being varies.
It can be very hard on both when they are tired and snappy from a long day at work and just not feeling like doing the “second shift” The single best predictor of long term relationships stability is common values and backgrounds because they would typically share similar interests and values. Now by looking at core tasks and distribution, the hours put in core tasks doesn’t effect the woman’s psychological well being however if the distribution is uneven (ie. She does more than 50 percent of the work) then the lower her psychologically well being.
For men, it’s the opposite, it’s the hours that affected them even if the distribution was uneven. So the higher number of hours he puts in, the lower his well being psychologically. Looking at the studies on the effects of division of household labor on marital quality and stability, they found that in couples, if the wife perceived the DoHL as unfair at time one, they were 3 times more likely to get divorced 8 years later, however if the husbands perception of the DoHL was unfair at time one, it didn’t really affect the marriage, its mainly the wife’s perception that matters.
In conclusion, if they both thought that the DoHL was fair, then it would predict their marital quality as good. Take for example, Nancy and Evan Holt in the book, “The Second Shift”, they would fight a lot based on DoHL, she was a feminist and he was a traditionalist, so having non common values didn’t help their fighting but because equality was so important to her, didn’t want to get divorced, and wanted things to be fair, she decided to do the upstairs (mainly the core tasks) and he would do the downstairs (other tasks, like cleaning the garage and taking care of the dog).
Did the DoHL between them end up working? Yes because equality was so important to Nancy. For Carmen and Frank, the DoHL didn’t really bother them, first of all they both had similar values but its also because they really needed each other’s money and help. He did about half of the work especially cooking rice, using the ATM machine and doing bills simply because she wasn’t good at those things. She did the other tasks that she was good at, so there was truly quite a fair division; therefore their marriage was content.
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