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Consequences Of An Unbalanced Division Of Labor

Many people—especially women—derive satisfaction from doing housework for family members because these activities symbolize love (DeVault 1991). At the same time, because housework continues to be relegated to wives and daughters, it is typically analyzed as part of a larger system of gender inequality. Although they may find some tasks enjoyable, most people do not like housework and, when financially able, most hire others to do the work. Because many hired domestic workers are poor women of color, this system also perpetuates class and race inequalities and socializes privileged children to expect to be waited on by disadvantaged women (Glenn, Chang, and Forcey 1994).

The amount of time that working-class women spend doing paid domestic work detracts from time they might spend with their own families. The time that all women spend doing housework detracts from the amount of time they might otherwise spend in paid labor, thus increasing their financial dependence on husbands and extended kin, and potentially reducing their relative power in society. Moreover, women who spend significant time in both unpaid labor and the paid workforce find themselves shouldering a "second shift" (Hochschild 1989), working in paid employment all day and doing housework and childcare when they come home. Employed wives enjoy less leisure and experience more stress than husbands (Schor 1991). When women bear a disproportionate share of responsibility for housework, their perceptions of fairness and marital satisfaction decline, and depending on gender attitudes and other factors, marital conflict and women's depression increase (Coltrane 2000).

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsHousework - History Of Housework, What Is Housework?, Housework Performance, Predictors Of Men's Sharing