Économie et Statistique n° 478-479-480Social and fiscal measures for families - Link between diploma and professional integration - Dossier: Time Use survey
Women's economic resources and their partner's house-keeping work: which effects for which tasks?
This article studies the impact of earned incomes on French women's time spent on house-keeping work in 1,674 couples where both partners work full-time, using the 2009-2010 Time Use survey. We test two theories that seek to interpret the relationship between the partners' economic resources and time allocated to household tasks. The “absolute” approach explains the decrease in time that women spend by the increase in their wages, regardless of those of their partner, while the “relative” approach highlights the role of relative wages as a measure of women's bargaining power within the couple. We show that the non-linear effect observed for relative wages, interpreted in terms of “gender performance” in the literature, is due to a poor characterisation of the relationship between wages and time spent on house-keeping work. This is very strongly non-linear for women, regardless of their bargaining power: as wages increase, the elasticity of their time spent on domestic tasks with respect to wages subsides. Therefore, it seems that there is a minimum amount of tasks that cannot be shortened for women, and the decrease is due to a cut in time spent cleaning and cooking; time spent with children is not sensitive to variations in income. Men only partially make up the difference, and their effect is not non-linear. Additionally, resorting to external services explains little of this decrease. It appears that women change their “expectations” by modifying the volume of overall domestic production. This brings changes to the relative volume of tasks carried out: an increase in the relative share of cooking compared to cleaning, and taking care of children compared to other tasks.