Gender and time allocation of cohabiting and married women and men

Gender and time allocation of cohabiting and married women and men

in France, Italy and the United States
Laurent Lesnard et al.
  • Men working, Women shopping - Richmond Centre (Antony Pranata, CC BY-NC-SA)Men working, Women shopping - Richmond Centre (Antony Pranata, CC BY-NC-SA)

Demographic Research, Open-Access Journal of Population Sciences has published in July the last paper of Laurent Lesnard, writing with Suzanne Bianchi (Univ. of California), Tiziana Nazio (Univ. of Turin) and Sara Raley (Mc Daniel College).

Gender and time allocation of cohabiting and married women and men in France, Italy, and the United States, vol. 31, art. 8, p. 183-216.

Background: Women, who generally do more unpaid and less paid work than men, have greater incentives to stay in marriages than cohabiting unions, which generally carry fewer legal protections for individuals that wish to dissolve their relationship. The extent to which cohabitation is institutionalized, however, is a matter of policy and varies substantially by country. The gender gap in paid and unpaid work between married and cohabiting individuals should be larger in countries where cohabitation is less institutionalized and where those in cohabiting relationships have relatively fewer legal protections should the relationship dissolve, yet few studies have explored this variation.

Objective: Using time diary data from France, Italy, and the United States, we assess the time men and women devote to paid and unpaid work in cohabiting and married couples. These three countries provide a useful diversity in marital regimes for examining these expectations: France, where cohabitation is most “marriage like” and where partnerships can be registered and carry legal rights; the United States, where cohabitation is common but is short-lived and unstable and where legal protections vary across states; and Italy, where cohabitation is not common and where such unions are not legally acknowledged and less socially approved than in either France or the United States.

Results: Cohabitating men’s and women’s time allocated to market and nonmarket work is generally more similar than married men and women. Our expectations about country differences are only partially borne out by the findings. Greater gender differences in the time allocated to market and nonmarket work are found in Italy relative to either France or the U.S.

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