Married men do less housework than co-habitees

// 29 August 2007

Married men report doing less housework than live-in boyfriends, regardless of whether or not the couple holds egalitarian values, according to research by George Mason University in the US.

The research looked at married and co-habiting heterosexual couples from 28 countries. The press release is brief, so it is difficult to extrapolate further, but the researchers speculate that this means marriage encourages traditional gender roles:

According to [report author Shannon] Davis, the key finding of the study is that it suggests the institution of marriage changes the division of labor. Couples with an egalitarian view on gender—seeing men and women as equal—are more likely to divide the household chores equally. However, in married relationships, even if an egalitarian viewpoint is present, men still report doing less housework than their wives.

“Marriage as an institution seems to have a traditionalizing effect on couples—even couples who see men and women as equal,” says Davis.

“Our research suggests that couples across many countries are influenced by similar factors when deciding how to divide the housework,” she says. “It’s the way the society has defined what being married means, the institution itself, that affects behavior.”

Does this back up the belief that marriage is an irredeemably patriarchal institution?

Photo by forbescreative, shared under a Creative Commons license

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