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Journal Article

Couples’ division of employment and household chores and relationship satisfaction: a test of the specialization and equity hypotheses


Publication date

Apr 2017


This article investigates associations between couples’ divisions of time spent on employment and household chores and respondents’ satisfaction with their partner relationship. Theoretical notions of specialization and equity were used to derive hypotheses. Specialization relates to differentiation in the content of tasks, whereas equity in hours indicates similarity in time devoted to family needs. We study direct effects of hours-equity and specialization with relationship satisfaction, but more importantly we investigate to what extent associations differ for people with egalitarian gender role attitudes, and for people with young children. We analysed dyadic data from the British Household Panel Survey. Surprisingly, no main effects of hours-equity and specialization on relationship satisfaction were found. Our results did show that for men with egalitarian gender role attitudes, equity in hours positively affected relationship satisfaction. Moreover, specialization was related to lower relationship satisfaction for men with egalitarian gender role attitudes. Conditional effects were not found for women or for the presence of children.

Published in

European Sociological Review

Volume and page numbers

33 , 195 -208





Psychology, Time Use, Labour Market, Well Being, Sociology Of Households, and Social Psychology


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