Joo, Ikhyun and Seongsoo Choi. 2019. “When a Man ‘Helps’ a Woman: The Importance of Time Overlap in the Division of Housework within Married Couples.” Korean Journal of Sociology 53(2):213-51.

Existing research has documented that husband’s additional housework does not reduce wife’s housework and even may increase it. In this study, we highlight the importance of ‘when’ housework is done by husband and wife, respectively, to explain why such an unintuitive pattern emerges. We examine this issue using data from the Korea Time Use Survey 2014. Results from our analyses reveal three main findings. First, as reported by prior studies, the longer hours husband spends doing housework, the more likely that wife’s housework time extends. Second, the stronger husband’s tendency is to do the housework alone, rather than doing it with the wife, the more likely wife’s housework time decreases. Third, the input of husband’s housework time adds extra housework hours to wife more remarkably when husband tends to do housework only with his spouse rather than by himself. These patterns hold consistently across different types of our samples, such as dual-earner and single-earner couples, on weekdays and weekend, and for core and non-core housework. Our result implies that merely encouraging husbands to do more of the housework to reduce wives’ burden cannot be an effective solution. Rather it suggests that policies for promoting organizational practices of shortening excessively long work hours and allowing for more flexible work schedule are needed.

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