Symmetrical relationships? Influences of partner’s characteristics on each other’s housework participation and political choice -PhD Thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2006


This study aims to examine the nature of husband-wife relationships in Great Britain, with particular focuses on the domestic division of labour and the party political choices. Using data from various waves of the British Household Panel Survey (1991 - 1999), it is hypothesized that the influences that husbands and wives have on each other’s housework participation and on party political choices will be associated with their levels of participation in the labour market, relative earnings, and gender role attitudes. Although gender roles are still in a certain sense segregated in marriage, the results generally suggest a broadly symmetrical pattern of influences between husbands and wives. For example, women on average undertake the bulk of housework regardless of their employment statuses; the association between one’s own political values and political choice is stronger in the case of men than in the case of women. But men’s housework hours will be decreased by their paid work hours and will be increased to a similar degree by their partners’ paid work hours. Women’s housework hours are also associated to a significant extent with their partners’ paid work hours. Furthermore, both men’s and women’s political choices are associated primarily with their own political values, and to a lesser but still significant extent with their partners’ political values. Men’s and women’s housework hours are also negatively associated with their level of earnings relative to that of their partners. However, the political choices of economically dependent men are virtually unaffected by their wives’ political values. Moreover, liberal gender role attitudes increase men’s housework hours and decrease women’s ones. The association between men’s political values and their political choices is weaker when their wives have work-centred attitudes. Nevertheless, contrary to the contention of Hakim’s preference theory, women’s employment activities and their gender role attitudes influence each other reciprocally. The results overall suggest that husband-wife relationships are mutually accommodative in nature.



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